For The Tribune
Saturday night’s Seymour-Whiteland boys basketball game came down to whoever was going to have the ball last.
The answer was Austin Gross and his Whiteland teammates.
Seymour’s Alan Perry hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to put the Owls on top 52-50, and the Owls began to celebrate.
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However, the Warriors called timeout with 1.9 seconds, and on the inbounds pass they moved the ball from under the basket to mid-court and called another time out with 1.4 seconds remaining.
Will Higdon passed the ball from out-of-bounds on one side of the court to Gross in front of the scorers’ bench and he let fly with a 30-footer that found it’s mark and the Owls were left with a stunning 53-52 loss at the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium.
“First of all, give Whiteland a lot of credit,” Owls coach Kyle Clough said. “They executed an end-of-game situation awfully well, and got themselves a good look.
“Unfortunately, sometimes in life you can do everything right like we did down the stretch, I thought, and you don’t get rewarded. I want our kids to keep their heads held high. They fought their butts off tonight and gave themselves a great chance to win.
“We’ve just got to keep putting ourselves in that position. That’s the tough part for our guys. We haven’t been there a lot, and any time you don’t finish one off it feels like the end of the world, but we’ve just got to keep getting there and we’ll get more familiar with it and we’ll make some winning plays next time.’
The Warriors took a 50-49 lead on a basket by Michael Valle with 1:10 remaining.
Seymour then moved into their offensive set and worked the ball until it became loose and rolled into the backcourt.
The Whiteland faithful thought there should be an over-and-back call but the officials did not blow their whistles.
Tyler Bloom retrieved the ball for the Owls and brought the ball to half-court and passed to Perry in front of the scorer’s table and his shot swished through the net to put the Owls on top 52-50 before Whiteland stopped the clock with 1.9 seconds to set up the dramatic finish.
Those baskets by Perry and Gross were their only field goals of the game, although Perry did have two free throws.
Seymour, sparked by nine points from Toriek Miller in the third period, had a 37-31 lead entering the fourth quarter, and increased its advantage to 44-36 on a layup by Tiller Cummings with 5:30 remaining.
“I thought we did a tremendous job at the end of the third quarter and in the fourth quarter to stretch that lead,” Clough said.
Three turnovers and a missed shot on Seymour’s next four possessions enabled the Warriors to draw even at 44 all with 3:20 left.
Clough said that 2:10 span was costly to his team.
“We had them down eight and we needed to finish that thing off,” he said. “They came up and pressed us that point and we didn’t respond very well, and gave them a little momentum. When you’ve got a team down eight in the fourth quarter you’ve got to be able to put them away. We were in the bonus but we couldn’t get to the free throw line.”
Seymour was 17-for-23 in free throws, including 5-for-7 in the fourth, and Whiteland was 7-for-12 for the game.
Miller topped the Owls with 19 points before he fouled out with 2:14 to play.
Cummings had 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Terr’e Moss topped the Warriors (3-1) with 16 points and Valle tallied 13.
The Owls (0-5) will travel to New Albany Friday night and will be home to Jennings County Saturday night for two HHC games.
Clough said he looks forward to practice today to prepare for those games.
“Next time I think luck will be a little bit in our favor, and we’ll be feeling a little better than we do right now. I really like our team, I believe in them, and they’re getting better every day and we’ve just got to keep putting ourselves in that position. It’s going to be a hard weekend to bounce back from, but that’s what we do here.”