The Flora Wolves were facing elimination in the Little Illini Conference tournament at Robinson on Monday night when they faced off against the Newton Eagles for the second time in a week.
Last Tuesday night, the Wolves defeated the Eagles by 19 point at Conley Gym but Monday’s contest was a different animal.
Drew Woodrow hit a three pointer with :01 on the clock to give the Wolves a come from behind 61-58 win to stay alive in the tournament.
Coach Phil Leib said that the difference in the games was Newton’s ability to make shots that they didn’t make at Conley.
“I think that the big difference was that they hit a lot of shots that they missed at our place,” Coach Leib said. “Their defense was a little bit better and more solid this time around. They kept us away from the rim so we weren’t able to attack the basket and get to the free throw line.”
Without being able to get to the basket like they did last week, the Wolves were forced to shoot outside. The first two baskets of the game for Coach Leib’s squad came from behind the three point line.
Trevin Smith started the game with a trey. After Newton scored four straight points, Jordan Winka hit a three pointer that put the Wolves back in front.
It continued to rain three’s in the first quarter as Newton drained one with Jeffrey Gaither following with his first of the game. Newton went back in front with a three pointer and upped their lead to 12-9 with a field goal.
Owen Leib cut the lead down to a point as he was able to get in the paint for a deuce but the Eagles followed with another three pointer.
Leib was able to cut the lead in half with a pair of free throws. The Eagles came back and got a bucket with three seconds left in the quarter to hold a 17-13 lead after the first period.
The second quarter started with Leib getting the Wolves within two on a field goal but the Eagles then scored 10 straight points to up the lead to 27-15 midway through the period.
The Wolves got back on the board with a field goal from Smith. The Eagles responded with a three pointer to go up 30-17.
Gaither got the Wolves within seven at the half with consecutive treys to make it 30-23 at the half.
The Wolves were able to cut the lead down to two points in the third quarter. After Newton made 1-2 at the line, the Wolves got a field goal by Chris Scott and two free throws from Woodrow.
Newton made a free throw and a field goal that pushed the lead back to five points. After a field goal by Gaither, a pair of buckets from the Eagles got the lead back to seven points going to the final period.
After being called for just six fouls in the first half, the Wolves were called for 10 fouls in the third quarter to put Newton in the Super Bonus for the remainder of the game.
Newton’s lead got to 12 points at the start of the four quarter as they put in a pair of field goals and a free throw.
Gaither stopped the run at 9-0 with a field goal from Gaither in the paint. After the Eagles made a pair of free throws, Smith knocked down a three ball that got the Wolves within nine points. Newton hit a field goals and Woodrow made two at the line and Smith added another free throw to make it a 49-41 game.
With 4:05 left in the game, Woodrow took an elbow to the mouth but the refs called the foul on Woodrow and Newton went to the line where they made both free throws.
On the way down the floor, Coach Leib was expressing his displeasure at the officiating all night and the referee hit the Flora Coach with a technical foul at the midpoint of the quarter.
“I do apologize that I got a technical and I don’t normally do that. I’ve been coaching at Flora for 17 years and it’s just that for some reason it just turned the switch on the Wolves and they got going after that,” Coach Leib said. “I didn’t realize that ‘You’re amazing’ is worthy of getting a technical but it may have been what led up to that.”
Newton made 1-2 at the line after the technical foul that put them up 51-42.
The technical foul on their coach seemed to wake something up in the Wolves. After a turnover, Smith got to the baskets and drew a foul. He made two at the line. Another turnover by the Eagles led to Gaither getting fouled and going to the line. He made 1-2 free throws to make it a 52-44 game.
The Eagles made a free throw then the Wolves went crazy on three pointers.
Smith started the rally with a trey and Winka banked one in after a Newton basket that got the Wolves within five points.
Smith made it a two point game with a three pointer but the Eagles got the lead back to four with a pair of charity tosses.
Winka got it down to a one point game with another three pointier and Scott tied the game from the paint after a Newton free throw.
Newton turned the ball over down by the Wolves’ basket and the Wolves gave another chance for the win.
The Wolves had 17 seconds on the clock and they worked the ball around the perimeter as the time ticked away. With two seconds on the clock, Woodrow put up a three pointer that found the bottom of the basket to give the Wolves their first lead since the first quarter at the most important point in the game.
“I thought it was going to be out on us but they called it out on Newton. We already had a play drawn up. They took that away from us so, lo and behold, players make plays and that’s what you have to do and that’s why kids stay after practice to work on their shot. Woodrow stayed an hour after practice on Saturday because he knew he had been struggling with it,” Coach Leib said.
Newton called a 30 second timeout in order to set up a last ditch effort but their shot attempt came up short and the Wolves advanced in the tournament with a 61-58 win.
It was a chain of events that got the Wolves to the point where they had a chance to take victory out of the hands of defeat.
“Chris Scott was huge. People will look at the box score and see that he only had four points. A huge offensive board and putback tied the ball game up. But that don’t happen without Winka’s bank shot, which got us within two. But that don’t happen without Trevin Smith literally taking over in that fourth quarter and refusing to lose and putting the Wolves on his back. But that don’t happen without Gaither hitting shots and getting to the rim and playing solid defense,” Coach Leib said.
Flora 61, Newton 38
Flora (61) Smith 1-4-5-19; Carder 0-0-0-0; Woodrow 1-1-4-9; Winka 0-3-0-9; Leib 2-0-2-6; Gaither 2-3-1-14; White 0-0-0-0; Moses 0-0-0-0; Scott 2-0-0-4; Totals 8-11-12-61.
Newton (58) Carr 2-2-3-13; Weber 0-1-6-9; Harris 1-0-0-2; Stone 2-0-0-4; Koebele 1-0-1-3; M. Jansen 2-0-3-7; Cohorst 3-2-1-13; Wagy 1-0-0-2; Z. Jansen 1-0-2-4; Totals 13-5-16-58.