Boys basketball: Freebies seal win for West Side
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent January 18, 2013 10:52PM
Updated: February 20, 2013 6:15AM
GARY — You can never over-emphasize the importance of free-throw shooting at any level of basketball. Granted, by it’s very nature free throws are boring and will probably never make anyone’s top-10 highlight film.
But free-throw shooting was the deciding factor in Friday night’s rematch of the Gary Holiday Classic final with West Side picking up a 68-63 win over Wallace.
“We’ve been struggling from the free-throw line this season so that’s what we shoot during practice,” said Cougars’ coach Murray Richards. “Tonight it payed off for us.”
Indeed practice made close to perfect for West Side, especially in the fourth quarter when the Cougars hit 11 of 13 from the charity stripe, with guard Denzel Casson, a young man used to dealing with perfection (he’s a straight-A student) hitting 7 of 7 down the stretch.
“This is a very big win for us,” said West Side guard Arnold Wilson, who had a team-high 17 points. “We beat them in the holiday tournament and we wanted to beat them in their house to let them know we’re a better team this year.”
The Hornets undoing was not just their lack of accuracy from the free throw line (9 of 15), but also falling into the same trap that cost them in their last game against the Cougars. They got off the a good start but couldn’t continue the momentum into the second quarter, with the Cougars outscoring the Hornets 20-8 in the period to take a 31-28 lead into halftime.
But it wasn’t like the Hornets didn’t have their chances.
“We missed the front end of three one-and-one’s when we were two down,” said Wallace coach Melvin Yancey. “We had a great opportunity but they hit their free throws and we missed ours.”
“We practice free throws all the time but I think their concentration was taken a back.”
Casson had 15 for the Cougars while Jere Glover added 10. Wallace was led by Charles Cooper and Travon Boddie’s 14 points while Richard Wash came off the bench to score 10 points, all in the second half.