Free throws down the stretch aid Windsor
by Kirk Whitaker
Free throws are the name of the game in basketball for a reason.
Saturday night, 12 of Windsor’s 22 first half points came from the free throw line, and all of those would prove vital for the Devils in their 68-63 2OT win, upsetting Okaw Valley’s senior night in the process.
“We preach getting to the free throw line, and I think we did a good job of not settling for an outside shot,” said Devils head coach Silas Pogue. “Mitch Haddock and Nick Hutchinson made some in the second half after we didn’t have very many in the first half, but it was a very good night.”
Windsor started the half on a 13-7 run, and Haddock’s lone 3-pointer of the game brought the Devils back to claim their lead 35-34, and the Devils held a 40-38 lead at the end of three.
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A large part of the comeback was the play of sophomore Tristan Warner who scored 13 of his game high 27 points through three quarters.
“Tristan played very well in the second half,” Pogue said. “He’s a solid player, but he gets too careless with the ball in the first half. We are still working on him being more fundamental. The last couple games he has been better at sharing the ball, and his teammates give it back to him. His teammates make him the player that he is.”
In spite of losing the lead, the Timberwolves came back.
With 6:23 to go, down three, Drew Fruchtl drained a 3-pointer to tie the game and was followed by more clutch play from Devon Still later in the game.
“Drew is a sophomore and has grown from not even being on the varsity roster to doing the important things,” explained Wolves head coach Tony Sparks. “He is athletic, does the little things, scores, and is developing into a good player. He has been a nice surprise for us this year.”
Still made a free throw to tie the game at 52, but after an Alex Martin earned a steal with 6.3 seconds on the clock. Martin then passed to Peyton Hagerman who then found the 6’3” Still for a layup to tie the game at 54 with 1.2 seconds to go in regulation.
“Devon was out in the fourth, and he came off the bench and scored six crucial points for us and really gave us a big lift late,” Sparks said. “They (Still and Hagerman) are mature juniors who are starting to play like seniors.”
“It was sloppy and could have gone either way,” Pogue commented. “We are bad at having a lead with a minute and a half left. We have to get better at it. We have to get better at running an offense. At halftime assistant coach Adam Shoaf did a great job of helping with adjustments and helping us in the comeback.”
Both teams managed only two buckets in the first extra stanza, so four more minutes were posted on the board.
After a back and forth start, OV held a narrow 63-62 lead, but Joe Jeffers fouled out with seven points, and after Jeffers’ exit OV wouldn’t score again.
Windsor scored the final six points from the line, and Warner concluded his big night with the final four capping a 68-63 victory.
“It was well played by both teams. We made some plays late in regulation and in the first overtime, and Devin made a clutch shot down low with a few seconds left,” added Sparks. “It’s just one of those games where one possession is the difference. Having two main guys foul out didn’t really help.
A lot of times we get distracted with all the hoopla, but the seniors contributed well and are really helping the future of the program.”
OV: D. Still: 8-3-18 points, 5 rebounds; P. Hagerman: 5-7-17 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists; D. Fruchtl: 5-0-11 points, 2 rebounds; J. Jeffers: 3-1-7 points, 6 rebounds; A. Martin: 2-2-6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals; B. Sparks: 1-0-2 points, 4 rebounds; G. Walker: 1-0-2 points, 1 rebound
Winidsor: T. Warner: 6-5-27 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals, 3 assists; A. Allen: 5-2-12 points, 7 rebounds; H. Cole: 1-7-9 points, 2 rebounds; S. Blackburn: 2-3-7 points, 3 rebounds; M. Haddock: 1-2-5 points; N. Hutchinson: 2-0-4 points, 3 rebounds; R. Ard: 1-2-4 points, 2 rebounds