A big crowd and first place on the line made for some uptight boys basketball players Friday night when Tecumseh visited Shawnee. Nervousness was contagious for most of the first half as each team committed 11 turnovers, most of them errant passes.
“Both sides knew this was a big game, so you’re going to get some of that tension early on,” Shawnee coach Chris McGuire said.
The crowd was reluctant to get too excited over anything in the first half, unsure if either team was going to live up its record. But a late run for a six-point lead at the break calmed the Braves. Then they dominated the second half until the Arrows came back with a 3-point assault.
But just when the Braves could have tensed up again, they took deep breaths and made six straight free throws in the final 35 seconds to pull away for a 58-49 victory in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division.
Shawnee (9-1, 5-0) led 45-31 with 4:51 to play when Gabe Winans-Berner started the Arrows’ comeback. He scored 14 of his game-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and got help from freshman Malik Quisenberry with three 3-pointers.
But 52-49 was as close as Tecumseh (10-2, 4-1) came. In order, Andrew Tincher, Jaelin Williams and David Sawyer made two free throws apiece to run the Braves’ winning streak to seven games.
“Shawnee played very well and shot the ball really well,” Tecumseh coach Roger Culbertson said. “And to turn the ball over 18 times and still have a shot at the end of the game, I’m very proud of our kids to make the effort to come back.”
McGuire said it was one of his team’s most complete games. The scoring was balanced with Williams at 14 points, Tincher and Jaden Greenwood with 11 apiece and David Sawyer with 10 off the bench.
“If we were patient enough we thought that we could get some good looks,” McGuire said. “We’ve got other guys who can score when there’s so much pressure put on Jaelin.”
This win followed Wednesday night’s overtime victory over Kenton Ridge (4-5) in which McGuire was not pleased with the defensive effort. But this time the Braves contested shots and limited the league’s best 3-point shooting team to the five that came at the end
“Guys came out and made a commitment to the defensive end,” McGuire said, “and I think it gave them some trouble.”