vs. Hotchkiss School
|Date:||December 3, 2018|
Stirring Knight Comeback Falls Short at Buzzer; Hotchkiss Escapes with One-Point Win
Say whatever else you will about this Salisbury basketball team, they do not back down. They showed it on Saturday night in their come-from-behind win over Avon, and they showed it again Monday afternoon in a comeback against Hotchkiss that fell just short at the buzzer, allowing the Bearcats to escape the Flood Center with a 67-66 win.
Trailing by a point with Hotchkiss inbounding under Salisbury’s basket and 1.6 second showing on the clock, the smothering Knight defense forced a five-second violation when no one on the floor could get open for the Bearcat inbounder. The Lazurus-like turn of events gave the ball back to Salisbury with enough time for one last shot and a chance for a dramatic win. Damani Thomas (10 points, 7 rebounds) broke free for the inbounds pass and had a clear look from the right side, but his long jumper hit the front of the rim as time expired.
“The team showed great heart and toughness,” first-year coach Kyle Dudley said of his team’s performance after the game. “I was really proud of them.”
Despite trailing by 18 points, three minutes into the second half, the Knights simply would not quit. In front of a vibrant fan-section that supported them every step of the way, Salisbury came all the way back, taking their first lead of the game, 58-57, on a Sean Ingoglia basket with just over four minutes left to play. After a Hotchkiss score at the other end, the Knights would take the lead again, 60-59, with 3:48 showing, on a Justin Oliveras offensive rebound and putback.
The Bearcats responded, converting a drive to the basket and drawing a foul that gave them a 62-60 lead that they eventually extended to 66-61, as Salisbury began to have trouble making foul shots. Between 3:25 and 22.6 seconds, when Oliveras (15 pts., 6 rebounds) went to the line, the Knights missed 5 of 6 free throws. On this trip to the charity stripe, though, Oliveras made both of his shots, bringing Salisbury within 3 at 66-63. Hotchkiss went to the line on the other end, making 1 of 2 for a 67-63 lead, but back came the Knights, with Ingoglia hitting a long three-pointer to pull within 1, 67-66, and set the stage for the final 1.6 seconds of the game.
In the first half, Salisbury had no answer for the Bearcats’ long-range accuracy. Every time the Knights started to chip away at the visitors’ lead, one of the Bearcats’ long line of sharpshooters seemed to tee up another rainbow from all over the court. Some 24 of the team’s points came on trifectas as they built a 36-25 halftime lead.
Salisbury did have several little runs in the first half. Trailing 9-2, a Thomas 10-footer followed by a Seth Gelwarg trifecta narrowed the score to 9-7 at 10:09. A Hotchkiss run pushed the lead up to 16-7, but the Knights responded with a sweet assist by Ford Cousin (9 pts.) in heavy traffic under the basket and an Oliveras finish, followed by a Cousin three-pointer at 7:56 to make it 16-12. A 9-0 tear by Hotchkiss opened the largest lead of the half at 27-14, as it began to appear the Knights just couldn’t match their opponents’ run-and-gun pyrotechnics.
No one informed Ingoglia of this, however, as the senior from San Francisco, California, poured in 9 points over the final three minutes on free throws, a pair of baskets in the paint, and a late three-pointer to keep Hotchkiss from taking an even bigger lead into the halftime locker room. “Sean was tremendous,” Dudley effused after the best performance of the two-year starter’s Salisbury career. “He filled up the box score,” Dudley continued, noting Ingoglia’s 17-point, 11-rebound double-double, along with 5 assists and 3 blocks.
The second half did not start out particularly promisingly. After Hotchkiss built its lead to 18, the two teams went into a stretch of trading baskets, with Salisbury chipping a few points off the lead but the Bearcats maintaining a double-digit advantage. With 9:41 left, Hotchkiss still had a 49-35 lead and seemed in control. But when their sharpshooters suddenly ran out of ammo, Salisbury was ready to take advantage. Parker Stone converted a Cousin dish in the lane to make it 49-37. Two Ingoglia free throws and his running one-hander in the lane on the ensuing possession brought the margin under 10, 50-41, for the first time since late in the first half. After a Hotchkiss basket, Oliveras connected on a three-pointer at 7:45 to make it 52-44, with the crowd’s pitch now rising on each possession.
At the other end, Ingoglia rebounded a Bearcat miss and then drove the length of the court for a lay-up. Now it was 52-46 with 7:16 still to play. After trading baskets on the teams’ next two possessions, Ingoglia corralled another board and again went end-to-end, finishing with a reverse lay-up past a dazed defender. The lead was now down to 4, 57-53, and after another defensive stop Thomas connected on a trey to pull within a point at 57-56 and 4:42 left. The stage was set for the finale and a storybook finish – that was missing the last page.
But the season is young. Scoring leader Brandon Roughley is scheduled to return to action this weekend, and Dudley’s reserves have given their coach a clearer and clearer idea of what they can do in the heat of competition. “We gave ourselves a chance to win at the end,” a philosophical Roughley pointed out after the game, “and, really, that is what you play for. Sometimes it works out; this time, it didn’t.”