There is nothing more thrilling in a basketball game than a last second shot.
Tuesday night, the Flora Wolves got to experience the same feeling as they defeated Dieterich Maroons 55-52 on a last second three pointer from Jeffrey Gaither.
“It’s one of those situations where you can just throw the records out of the window,” Coach Phil Leib said. “It’s just two teams battling and going for the W.”
The Wolves trailed at the end of the first quarter 13-9.
Gaither had five points in the opening period on a three and a deuce. Jordan Winka and Trenton Brown each had a field goal.
In the second quarter, the Wolves turned up the defensive pressure and held the Maroons to four points on a couple of field goals.
On the other end of the floor, the Wolves tallied 12 points to take a 21-17 lead.
Gaither again had five points just as he had in the first quarter and Trevin Smith added a field goal.
Late in the second quarter, Coach Leib put Landon Carder into the game and got an unexpected spark.
“I though we needed a little bit of a spark defensively and offensively. Everything was just a bit dead,” Coach Leib said. “One thing that he will do is give you everything he’s got.”
Carder came in and hit a three pointer that put the Wolves up 19-17. He followed with a layup and the Wolves took a 21-17 lead to the locker room.
Dieterich fought back in the third quarter and scored 22 points to 16 for the Wolves. The Maroons were able to turn a four point halftime deficit into a two point lead going to the third quarter.
Dieterich was able to get a couple of easy baskets by cutting down the lane and the right side of the lane was left wide open.
“We walked through that type of situation. They call it Double Right and what it is is a clear out for a backdoor type of play. We used to do that back when we had kids that required extra attention,” Coach Leib said. “The help has to come from the weak side and we were hugging our man and they were getting layups.”
Gaither hit three treys in the third quarter and Winka added one. Logan Moses and Chris Scott each had a field goal.
Going into the final period down two, the Wolves didn’t want to let this game slip away.
Gaither hit a three pointer and a deuce. Smith had a pair of field goals and was 1-2 at the free throw line. Drew Woodrow and Scott added bucket and the Wolves led 51-49 late in the game.
Winka stepped to the line and made the first of two free throws that gave the Wolves a three point lead.
On the next possession, Dieterich came down the floor and knocked down a three pointer to tie the game with 9.8 seconds left in regulation.
After a Flora timeout, the Wolves came down and had a couple of opportunities for a game winning layup but they were off the mark.
The ball was kicked out to Gaither in the left corner and knowing he had the hot hand, he knocked down the winning three pointer as the buzzer sounded and gave the Wolves their fifth win of the season.
Despite the win, the Wolves were just 2-10 (20 percent) at the free throw line. The lack of free throw attempts has been a concern to Coach Leib.
“Sometimes it’s an indicator that you are settling too much. What happens is that we’re settling for three or short jumpers versus trying to attack the rim,” Coach Leib said. “Where you are going to get fouled is around the basket. When we see those type of indicators it’s a concern of what we can do better. Teams know we can shoot the three. Two things are going to happen, you’re going to score or you’re going to get fouled.”
Despite the Wolves having a 5-10 record, Coach Leib is still having faith that the team can turn it around.
“Our record is not where we want it to be but we’ve played some very good teams. We haven’t been blown out except once. I thought we’ve been in each and every game. What’s more important is that they represent the community well. They work hard and like being together,” Coach Leib said.
The Wolves are back in action tomorrow against Robinson
Flora 55, Dieterich 52
Flora (55) Smith 3-0-1-7; Carder 1-1-0-5; Woodrow 1-0-0-2; Winka 1-1-1-6; Brown 1-0-0-2; Leib 0-0-0-0; Gaither 3-7-0-27; Moses 1-0-0-2; Scott 2-0-0-4; Totals 13-9-2-55.
Dieterich (52) 17-4-6-52.