DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
The evenly matched game fittingly went to overtime, but Whiteland couldn’t execute on either side of the ball the way it had in regulation and dropped a 60-51 road decision to Scottsburg.
Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said his team needs to start applying lessons learned in close games this season.
“We’ve got to start turning these teachable moments into winning moments,” he said. “We have to learn from these situations and turn it into better results.”
The Warriors faced full-court pressure from the opening tip, but a well-organized passing scheme and good ball-handling from junior guards Terr’e Moss and Will Higdon helped them beat the trap on every trip up the court in the first quarter. The Warriors went up by four at the end of the period on a jumper from Bryce Staker that just beat the buzzer.
The poise that served Whiteland so well in the first quarter seemed to desert it for part of the second period, with a flurry of turnovers, poor shots and defensive breakdowns giving Scottsburg the lead. But Moss hit a running one-hander at the buzzer to tie the halftime score at 26.
The game stayed tight in the third quarter, but Whiteland sophomore swingman Michael Valle began to find success driving the lane and put his team on top by four points by the time the third quarter ended. Purdie then hit a layup to open the final period and the Warriors were up by six points, but the momentum changed on a dime.
First, Whiteland turned the ball over on successive possessions. Then, Scottsburg’s Cameron Schmidt hit a pair of jumpers to cut the lead to one point with seven minutes remaining. Braxton Soloe put the home side up with a pair of free throws to make it 42-41.
Whiteland then held the ball for nearly three minutes before Valle missed a 3-pointer, and when Soloe hit a short jumper Scottsburg appeared to have all the momentum, but Aaron Eblen made an old-time 3-point play with 3:30 left to tie the game again.
After Tom Purdie hit a 3-point jumper to give Whiteland the lead, Eblen drew a charging foul that put Scottsburg’s tallest player out of the game with five fouls. On the next trip up the court, Eblen scored on an acrobatic tip, and Whiteland led 49-46 with 1:49 left.
Brandon Boswell tied the game for Scottsburg with a 3-point shot, and the home side took possession with a minute to go via a Whiteland charging foul. Scottsburg held the ball for nearly the entire minute but turned it over on a traveling call with four seconds remaining in regulation time. Purdie missed a long-range jumper at the buzzer, and the game went into overtime.
Unfortunately for Whiteland, the drama of the fourth quarter disappeared in the extra five minutes, with Scottsburg scoring a series of baskets from the lane and the visitors failing to find the range, being outscored 11-2 and dropping the decision.
Mike Valle, Purdie and Aaron Eblen led Whiteland’s balanced scoring attack with 14, 13 and 11 points, respectively. Purdie added eight rebounds and Eblen seven.
Christian Barrett scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Scottsburg.
Recognizing chances is a key area of the game that Wadsworth wants to see Whiteland improve in.
“We need to see those moments where you win the game, when you need to drive the basket or when you need a defensive stop,”
Whiteland hosts Bloomington North on Saturday.