someway Toledo St. John’s still managed to come out on top in its
Friday game against Toledo Waite. The Titans outlasted the Indians
TSJ came out strong against visiting Waite by taking an early 10-5 lead. Leading the way for St. John’s was the strong inside play of junior Tim Simmons who scored 11 of his team’s 15 points.
Despite the early success of the Titans, Waite’s experience proved valuable as it refused to be intimidated. The Indians maintained continuous pressure on the young Titan guards and the resulting turnovers allowed the Indians to come inching back. By the end of the first quarter, the Titan lead had evaporated and, as Waite’s senior guard Sean Pettaway laid the ball off glass in the quarter’s final seconds, the teams were even 15-15.
“I think playing with the lead has been a problem for us,” Titans coach Ed Heintschel said. “We just need to take care of the ball, calm down a little bit. We are very young in the backcourt and we will grow and mature hopefully.”
In the second quarter both offenses stalled a bit but the Indians took their only lead of the game when senior guard Khari Riley drained one of his two second quarter 3’s to give the Indians an 18-17 lead. Strangely, however, the Indians used this opportunity to take some air out of the ball by abandoning their usual up-tempo style of play and fall back into their half-court offense for approximately two minutes. Unfortunately for the Indians, this strategy was ineffective and the Titans benefited.
After taking a brief 18-17 lead at the 5:34 mark, the Indians scored only one additional basket in the quarter while the Titans ended by scoring 9 to take a 26-21 lead into the break.
The third quarter was not a good one for Waite.
On several occasions the Indians were able to pull back to within five points but the Titans used the momentum of the closing minutes of the first half to gradually build a solid 10-point lead, 41-31, as the third quarter ended. Titan junior Michael Taylor, who was shut out in the game’s first half, demonstrated some leadership for the Titans in the third quarter by coming up with some good baskets and setting up several others.
Despite being down at the end of the third Pitsenbarger felt that his team was still in the contest.
“We talked about there being runs where one team or the other might lead by 10 points,” Pitsenbarger said. “We had to not be content and keep playing hard [if ahead], or keep our composure if we were down. For the most part we did that.”
The final quarter will be one that will be longed remembered by both teams. For six and a half minutes the Titans appeared to be in complete control of the action and on their way to a double-digit victory. With only 1 minute and 25 seconds remaining, the Titans enjoyed a 9-point lead, 57-48, but suddenly the wheels came off.
All night long the Titans had been plagued by turnovers but in the final minute they committed three that almost resulted in a loss. On subsequent possessions, senior guard Robert Jackson, who finished as the game’s leading scorer with 25, stole the ball and converted both steals into points to pull his team within 57-53.
Following a missed field goal attempt by the Titans, the Indians pulled within two on a field goal by senior Ray Parker. The Indians once again stole the ball and appeared to have tied the game on a drive to the basket by Parker but the referee ruled that Parker was guilty of a charging foul. It would prove to be Waite’s last hurrah.
With only nine seconds remaining the Indians were force to foul and Titan sophomore Jay Springs confidently made two throws to seal the victory.
“Some crazy stuff happened there at the end,” Heintschel said. “Its correctable and we will be alright.”
The 3-1 Titans were led in scoring by Simmons’ 17, while Andrew Schaetzke came off the bench to add 10.
The Indians, who dropped to 5-1, got 10 from Brent Meredith as well.