Indians edge Titans in early-season hoops action
Special to the Whig
— The basket had not been kind to Tim Webster all night, but his final attempt was the only one that mattered.
Bottled underneath a cluster of flapping arms, the North East junior forward emerged and released the ball just before the buzzer sounded. It rolled off the backboard and through the net, giving the Indians a 32-30 home win in non-conference action against Tome Monday night.
Webster was thrilled to come up big in that moment to give his team a jolt of confidence during rough offensive night.
“I didn’t even think it counted at first,” Webster said with a laugh. “I was so happy. We’ve just got to keep getting W’s and keep moving around to get better shots.”
It was the ultimate redemption for Webster, who made two trips to the foul line in the final 45 seconds, but made just 1-of-3 — that one good free throw tied the game at 30-all with 25.2 seconds remaining. North East (2-1) got the ball back just eight seconds later as the defense notched its fifth steal of the fourth quarter. Webster snagged his team-high seventh rebound with less than five seconds left but had to wait for an opening in the crowd of defenders.
As the arena went nuts after Webster’s game-winner, his teammates piled on top of him, half out of elation and half out of relief that the harrowing ordeal was over. Of the 52 shots North East took in the game, just 14 fell.
“Tome probably outplayed us,” North East head coach Alan Foskey said. “We couldn’t throw a ball in the ocean and get it wet, but defensively I was pleased.”
Offense was hard to come by for both teams. They combined to go 0-for-22 on 3-point attempts, and they both shot under 35 percent from the floor overall.
The Titans led by three at halftime and again after the third quarter, but the Indians snatched the lead back with a five-point surge in the first 90 seconds of the final frame. They held onto the lead through most of the period with the help of an effective half- court trap that led to several Tome turnovers.
“That really helped us a lot. We’ve got some quick kids,” Foskey said. “That was the turning point for us, but we just had trouble finishing.”
Tome kept the score uncomfortably close by going 4-for-6 at the free-throw line, compared to the Indians’ 3-for-10 effort. The Titans took a 30-29 lead with 58 seconds to go but failed to score again.
Foskey not only showed Tome a variety of schemes, but a variety of personnel as well. He substituted out the entire starting five several times throughout the contest, a tactic he said he will continue to use for the time being.
“I did it against Tri-City the other night and it worked out well. I had 12 out of 13 score and had kids with a double-double playing 12 minutes,” Foskey said. “With our speed, it’s working. We’ll see what happens. We try to give the kids as much playing time as we can.”
Featuring several players 6-foot2 or taller, North East dominated the boards 38-28, while junior guard Kobie Matthews led the offense with nine points.
The Titans’ Chase Wunder scored a game-high 14 points, though the Indians held him scoreless in the decisive fourth quarter.
Foskey said he’s happy about the way his players have responded thus far to a team-first mentality.
“I think it’s a much better attitude right now,” he said. “We preach ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ and for the most part, they’re all buying into it.”