DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Perry Meridian scored 19 points in the game’s final five minutes Tuesday night and stunned the host Whiteland boys basketball team with a 55-48 comeback victory.
The loss snapped the Warriors’ seven-game winning streak and gave the Falcons (5-5) their fourth straight win against Whiteland (7-2).
“There was a time late in the game in which we gave up three consecutive offensive rebounds that led to a basket for them,” Warriors coach Matt Wadsworth said. “That was really the turning point. But overall, they won the rebounding battle.
“They shot better than we did, and they had more assists than us. It’s hard to win when that happens.”
The score was tied at 36 with 5:32 remaining when Perry Meridian junior Nate Mills hit a pair of free throws that briefly gave the Falcons a two-point advantage. Senior Will Higdon answered with a 3-point basket for the Warriors, but Perry regained the lead when Mills hit two more free throws during the Falcons’ next possession.
Senior Aaron Eblen’s field goal helped Whiteland to a 41-40 advantage, but Perry Meridian took control for good by scoring the next seven points.
“We found ourselves in some unfamiliar situations tonight, and we needed to respond better to those,” Wadsworth said. “For example, our shot selection wasn’t very good when we were down three or four points.
“I should have called timeout.”
Whiteland struggled at times with its perimeter shooting and managed only five free-throw attempts throughout the game.
“When you shoot as many perimeter shots as we do, you’re not going to get many free-throw attempts,” Wadsworth said. “We always talk about long shots, but when we missed those tonight, the fast-break opportunities led to transition baskets for them.”
Hidgon and senior Tom Purdie each scored 14 points for the Warriors. Purdie also registered a game-high eight rebounds.
Junior T.J. Comer led the Falcons with 14 points, while Mills added 11 points and six rebounds.
Higdon accounted for nine of the Warriors’ first-half points in a game that was tied at 24 heading into the third period.
Whiteland hit 11 of its 21 field-goal attempts in the opening half, while the Falcons connected on 9 of 18.
The Warriors host Greenwood on Saturday.