By Steve Keenan
Midland Trail charged its way to a fresh beginning in its first game of the new year.
The Patriot boys, who had struggled to a 2-2 start in the 2013 portion of their basketball schedule, exhibited signs of life with a 49-46 upset of previously undefeated Valley Saturday night.
“Huge, huge (win) for confidence,” Midland Trail coach Curtis Miller said after his team battled back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit by outpointing the Greyhounds 22-10 in the pivotal fourth quarter. “We’ve been playing awful, not well at all.
“Now we need to keep it rolling.”
Miller credited the victory to the six charges his defense took against the athletic Greyhounds.
“We’ve been preaching all week in practice about charges,” Miller said. “They (Valley) like to put their head down and go because they’re athletic.
“We took ‘em (charges) tonight, and that turned the game around.”
Two of those charges came in the fourth period via the defense of Ryan Wilson. Trail couldn’t convert after Wilson’s first play, but it did after Wilson planted himself in the lane and forced a foul call on Valley guard Henry Barron-Houchins. On the ensuing possession, Midland Trail’s Rickie Carter was fouled and canned both free throws to put Trail (3-2) ahead 47-43 with 13.1 seconds left.
Valley’s Donte Wilkerson buried a long 3-point goal six seconds later, but after the Patriots’ Collin Carte made two charity tosses with 5.6 ticks left, Wilkerson misfired on another trey at the buzzer as Midland Trail escaped with the upset.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” lamented Valley coach Joe McCoy, whose team on numerous occasions missed putback opportunities in close. “Down the stretch, we forced a couple of shots we shouldn’t have shot, and we turned it over too many times.
“The kids could have overlooked Midland Trail; it could have been that. But if you don’t put the ball in the basket, you’re not going to win. Hopefully this is a wakeup call. On any given night, any team can beat you.”
Valley played without leading scorer Zac Warden, sitting out the first of a two-game suspension due to an ejection in a holiday tournament at Sissonville, which the Greyhounds won.
“We missed Zac inside, and his presence on the outside helps too,” said McCoy. “I think these boys realize tonight we need him (Warden).”
Trailing 40-36 after a deuce by Valley’s Druw Bowen with 4:49 to play, Midland Trail began its final push. The Patriots’ Seth Crosier canned a deuce from the right elbow, then teammate Steven Blume stripped the ball and converted on the other end for a 40-40 deadlock with 3:40 to go.
The visitors took their first lead of the game, 44-43, on a Collin Carte drive with 52.2 seconds left. Valley could never regain the lead.
“We had more energy down the stretch,” said Miller, who teaches at Valley. “I think they got tired.
“Even though they were down a player, everybody thought we’d roll over for them. We became a team tonight.”
Despite its poor shooting, Valley (4-1) led 16-4 on Keyshawn Payne’s two-pointer off a Raeshawn Breckenridge feed late in the first quarter. The lead ballooned to 23-9 on Barron-Houchins’ two freebies following a Trail turnover at the 5:02 mark of the second.
The Patriots responded, though, and reeled off the last 11 points of the second frame to trim the deficit to three, 23-20, at halftime. Blume drilled a 3-pointer to start the rally, and teammate Gus Ellison ended it with another trey with 1:54 left.
Carter collected 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Midland Trail effort. Blume followed with 13 points and six boards, and Carte scored 11 points, including a 9 of 10 showing from the free-throw line.
Barron-Houchins tallied 15 for the Greyhounds. Payne added 10 and Bowen nine.
In the junior varsity contest, Midland Trail earned a 51-42 verdict.
For the Patriots, Larry Cavett tallied a team-high 16 points. Others in the scoring column were: Austin Keeney, 9; Dillon Harper, 7; Matt Skaggs, 8; Branden Brown, 4; Steven Blume, 2; and Jared Stover, 5.
Nicholas Morrison scored a game-high 18 points for VHS. Other scorers were: Zach Wilkerson, 9; Tyler Price, 9; Damaria Davis, 2; Ethan Lopetrone, 2; and Jaylun Craig, 2.
Midland Trail was slated to play at Meadow Bridge last night.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Midland Trail (3-2)
Steven Blume 5 1-4 13, Collin Carte 1 9-10 11, Gus Ellison 1 0-0 3, Rickie Carter 5 5-7 15, Ryan Wilson 1 0-0 2, Seth Crosier 2 0-2 4, Jared Stover 0 0-0 0, Cyrus Jackson 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 16-25 49.
Henry Barron-Houchins 5 3-8 15, Raeshawn Breckenridge 2 0-0 5, Keyshawn Payne 4 0-0 10, Druw Bowen 4 1-2 9, Donte Wilkerson 3 0-2 7, Spencer Armentrout 0 0-0 0, Tracy Conliffe 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 4-12 46.
MT 7 13 7 22 — 49
V 16 7 13 10 — 46
3-point goals — MT: 3 (Blume 2, Ellison); V: 6 (Wilkerson, Barron-Houchins 2, Payne 2, Breckenridge). Fouled out: None.