Varsity Boys’ Basketball Concludes Season with Thrilling 55-52 Win

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  • Zach Shrull ’19 shoots against Cedar Ridge.

  • Patrick Sladek ’19 dribbles down the court.

  • Zach Shrull ’19 passes to a teammate.

  • Matt Pravednikov ’19 celebrates after winning a knockout game during half time.

  • Corey Levinson ’19 prepares to take a free throw.

  • Brandon Parks ’20 warms up before the game.

  • Brandon Parks ’20 dribbles toward the basket.

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The varsity boys’ basketball team ended their season on a high note on Tuesday, Feb. 12, as the team downed the Cedar Ridge Raiders on their home court 55-52. Brandon Parks ‘20 led the Warriors with 12 points and six rebounds, while Ethan Brown ‘19 had ten points, shooting five-for-eight from the field. Zach Shrull ‘19 added nine points on four-for-five shooting, and Heston Williams ‘19 contributed six points from two three-pointers. The Warriors dominated the visiting Raiders for the majority of the game, but a late surge from Cedar Ridge made the game close in the waning minutes. Ultimately, the Warriors were able to withstand the comeback and prevail on Senior Night.

“It feels great to end my high school athletic career on a win, and especially it being a thriller like that makes it even more special,” Brown said.

An early steal forced on defense led to the opening score of the game, a layup by Patrick Sladek ‘19. After the layup, Brown rattled off four straight points, being set up by nifty assists from Sladek and Shrull. Later, the continued tenacity on defense led to another Brown basket, assisted by Christian Robinson ‘20. Santi Campos ‘20 then proceeded to convert an and-one opportunity to make the score 14-10 in favor of the home team, then Williams drained his first three-pointer of the game after yet another steal, this time by Marcos Martinez ‘20. The Warriors led the visiting Raiders 17-11 after time in the first quarter expired.

A Shrull post-up basket got the second quarter underway. A few moments later, Luke Durham ‘19 drilled a three-pointer to make the lead double digits for the first time in the match, as the Warriors now led 25-15. After a Cedar Ridge two-point shot to bring the Warriors’ lead back to single digits, Williams made another three to increase the lead to 28-17. After the Raiders scored four straight points, Parks responded with four points of his own to snap the mini-slump and put the lead back at eleven, 32-21. A Raider two-pointer would be the last bucket of the first half, with the Warriors on top by nine, 32-23.

“Getting the early lead was big, that allowed us to dictate the tempo of the game. Cedar Ridge had to gamble in order to try and get back into the game,” Parks said. “More importantly, limiting turnovers and possession for Cedar Ridge made the biggest difference.”

A layup from Shrull opened the second half. The third quarter was more of a defensive battle than the first two frames of play, with both teams preventing each other from converting too many shots. Each side scored nine points, as the beginning of the second half was a very evenly matched period. The Warriors still maintained the lead, heading into the final chapter of the contest 41-32.

The fourth quarter proved to be the most entertaining part of the game between the two district opponents. A Brown layup was the opening score for the Warriors, but Cedar Ridge began to mount a furious comeback after that. The Raiders were able to battle back and shrink the Warriors’ lead to a mere two points, with the score being 50-48, before Coach Brad Hastings was forced to use a timeout to try and adjust the game plan in order to secure a victory. With under three minutes left, the teams went back and forth, playing the best defense both sides had played up until that point.

“The biggest thing for us was making free throws. They had to foul in order to get the ball back, which was key,” Sladek said. “We didn’t turn the ball over after they made tough shots which also contributed to the win.”

The Warriors were up 53-50 with less than 30 seconds left. With the crowd on their feet and being as loud as they had been throughout the game, Cedar Ridge got the rebound off of a missed free throw and hustled down the court looking for an open man on the perimeter. As time was running out, the Raiders couldn’t find an open man due to the stifling defense from the Warriors. A Raider had to put up a forced three-pointer and air-balled, with the Warriors grabbing the rebound. Two more converted free throws effectively confirmed the result, with the Warriors emerging victorious after a wild finish to the match.

“We didn’t want to have a losing record this year, and it was very important that we got the win to go 15-15 for the season,” Parks said.

The Warriors finish the season at 15-15, and go into the offseason on a high note, looking to improve and prepare for next season.