Whiteland’s valiant second-half comeback went for naught, as the Warriors lost 73-69 to Perry Meridian in overtime Tuesday at home in boys basketball.
The Warriors (0-2) trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half and were still facing a 16-point deficit early in the fourth when they made their move.
Led by the hot shooting of junior Carter Crowe, who hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, Whiteland made up the difference and forced overtime when Brennan Neal completed a three-point play with no time on the clock.
But Whiteland’s magic ended there. Noah Hale staked the Warriors to a two-point lead with a pair of free throws early in the extra session, but Perry scored the next eight points to pull away for the win.
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“I’m proud of our effort. When you break it down, the team that shot more free throws and layups won,” Whiteland coach Matt Wadsworth said. “We needed to do a better job of attacking the basket in overtime. Turnovers in late-game situations hurt us. I feel like, as a team, if we can figure that out, we’re going to be in a pretty good position.”
The Warriors struggled for two and a half quarters against Perry’s long and athletic zone. Often getting only one shot at the basket, Whiteland needed to make every possession count and it didn’t do that early.
Whiteland (0-2) led 9-7 early thanks to a 7-0 run, but the momentum didn’t last long. Led by super freshman Jayden Taylor, Perry Meridian closed the first half on an 11-2 run to go ahead 18-11 after one quarter and took a 38-22 lead into the half.
Perry’s lead reached 18 after a Taylor 3-pointer with 4:14 left in the third made it 46-28. After Whiteland closed the gap to 11 after three quarters, a four-point play, the Falcons’ second of the game, gave Perry a 55-39 lead with 7:55 to play.
Crowe, who was held to just two free throws in the first half and six points in the third, exploded in the fourth for the Warriors. The 6-foot-5 junior bombed a 3-pointer to begin Whiteland’s comeback and kept on scoring, hitting three more treys in the quarter. His 3 with 1:27 left completed the comeback giving the Warriors a 60-59 led.
Taylor had fouled out just prior to Crowe’s last 3, and the momentum shift benefited the Warriors. The two teams traded free throws before the Falcons hit four straight with under 20 seconds to play to take a 65-62 lead.
The last shot was coming to Crowe but Perry defended it well. His 3-point attempt from the corner failed to draw iron, but Neal was there to grab the offensive rebound and put in the basket as he was fouled. With no time on the clock, the junior calmly hit the free throw to send the game into overtime.
“I think the first time you face a zone defense on the season it takes time to adjust,” Wadsworth said of Perry’s defense. “It’s something that we’ve been practicing against a significant amount each day but you can’t replicate that in practice. I thought in the second half we did a better job of cutting and flashing into the gaps to score.”
Crowe finished the game with 23 points and Neal had 20 to lead Whiteland.