BASKETBALL: Tigers win thriller

WAYNESFIELD — The seconds ticked down toward zero on the clock with the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers trailing 45-44 in the opening game of the 2011-12 varsity boys basketball season.

With the Tigers in possession of the ball, they rotated the ball down to a sophomore appearing in his first-every varsity game — an unlikely hero at this stage of the game and season.

Colton Miller drove the base line, put up and off-balance shot and watched the ball snap the strings as the buzzer sounded.

“I didn’t know what to think,” Miller said of his game-winning shot. “When I threw it up I thought it had a chance. When it went through I just went blank. It was my first varsity game. I couldn’t think of a better way, at the buzzer and at home. It is like it was scripted.”

The last-second shot gave Miller 14 points in the game. He also collected nine rebounds. He was one of only two players in double digits for the Tigers.

Waynesfield-Goshen varsity coach Ryan Taylor had to scratch his head at the end of Friday’s 46-45 thriller.

“Any time you can win on a buzzer, that‘s a good game,” Taylor said.

Taylor has to be glad it ended well, because the game did not start well for the second-year Tiger varsity coach.

During last season’s opener, also against Parkway, Taylor made a blunder with the official score book that cost him a technical foul and allowed the Panthers to start with a 2-0 lead.

It was deju vu all over again for the Tigers this year. Taylor forgot to mark his five starters at the beginning of the game.

“I looked up and saw us trailing by one,” Taylor said, as he watched the Panthers convert both shots of a technical foul for a 2-0 lead. “I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’”

It wasn’t an easy win for the Tigers as they fought for a victory.

Tiger junior forward Lee Turner battled both inside and outside for 15 points and seven rebounds. He came up with rebounds late in the game when needed.

“It was a team win by everybody,” Taylor said. “I had to play everyone on the bench but some rebounds hurt us and that showed.”

The Tigers started strong defensively during the opening quarter. Their fast tempo created easy baskets and stay ahead but during the second quarter.

Parkway’s rebounds and free throw shooting helped them stay in the game as the Tigers held a 24-22 lead at the half.

“We came out early and turned the ball over a lot,” Parkway varsity coach Will Snyder said after the game. “We worked really hard to get back in the game.

“We started with 10 turnovers in the beginning.”

The Panthers started the second half with renewed vigor, playing defense with more intensity, forcing Tiger turnovers, and preventing them from scoring.

With the Tigers scoring only four points during the third quarter, Parkway grabbed the lead with 33-28 going into the final quarter.

With the increased intensity level in the third quarter, the Panthers had little energy for the fourth quarter.

Both teams continued to still fight for every loose ball. After missed crucial free throws by Parkway, W-G snatched the momentum on the offensive side as they put up a whopping 18 points with a game-winning shot in the closing moment.

“I am proud of them,” said Snyder. “They did what they had to do and we just have to work on finishing the game.”

JV: Parkway, 62-36