Wolverines bitten by the whistle
Call it a player’s mistake or a blatantly bad call. Either way, the screech of a whistle doomed the Truckee High boys basketball team Wednesday night in a heartbreaking 57-53 loss.
It happened with two ticks on the clock, and with Truckee clinging to a 49-47 lead over the visiting Yerington Lions.
Truckee senior Pat Galvin was at the charity stripe, trying to extend the lead to three while earning a second free throw out of the one-and-one opportunity.
His free throw missed, caroming high off the rim. Truckee’s Nick Tennant and Yerington’s Casey Wildermuth jumped for the rebound. Their hands met the ball nearly simultaneously, and Tennant volleyed the ball back into the air.
Then came the whistle ” against Truckee. Then the boos ” loud, angry ones from the majority of those in attendance.
Calm and collected, Wildermuth strolled to the other end of the court, focused on his target, and hit nothing but net on both crucial attempts, forcing extra minutes.
By that time, the shorthanded Wolverines ” competing with just seven players suited up ” had lost much of the pep in their step. It showed in the four-minute overtime period, as the opportunistic and fresh-legged Lions outscored Truckee 8-4 to pull off the comeback win.
“We had our chances,” a disappointed Steve Ames, Truckee’s head coach, said after the loss. “We were up.”
That they were, plenty of times in the well-played and evenly matched contest, which featured seven ties and eight lead changes.
“I thought we played well as a team, but we were down on numbers and that kind of hurt us,” said Ames, whose team fell to 2-2 in the competitive Northern 3A. “I’m proud of the kids, though. That’s a good team, and I think we proved that we can play with the best teams in the league.”
The Lions (3-2) lived at the free throw line throughout the second half, particularly in the fourth quarter, when one whistle after another went against the home team. Between the final two quarters and overtime, when play remained physical on both ends, Yerington went to the line 15 times while Truckee made six trips.
Despite the disparity, Ames made no excuses, pointing out that his team made a costly mistake by committing a foul on their own end of the floor in the waning seconds ” exactly what his players were instructed not to do.
Junior Ryan Roberts led the Wolverines in scoring, posting nine points in the first quarter and finishing with 15. Galvin followed with 12 points, as he connected on four straight 3-pointers from the same spot along the baseline in the third quarter. Tennant, an animal on the boards until fouling out in overtime, contributed nine points.
While the Wolverines held their own in the paint, grabbing rebounds and playing tight defense on Yerington’s big men, fatigue took its toll as the battle wore on.
“I thought we rebounded pretty well at times. But at the end we got tired and started playing volleyball, and (Yerington) got most of (the tipped rebounds),” Ames said.
Truckee led 19-15 after one quarter and trailed 31-28 at the half. Galvin’s outside shooting helped the Wolverines take a 42-38 lead into the fourth quarter, when Yerington made four consecutive trips to the line to open the period, and Truckee failed to score for the first five and a half minutes.
With 30 seconds remaining in regulation and Truckee holding onto a 49-45 lead, the Lions ” who had been called for only two fouls in the half ” had subs commit several quick fouls until the Wolverines finally reached the bonus. The strategy worked, as Yerington got a bucket in the paint to pull to within two points, then sent the game to O.T. after the ill-timed Truckee foul.
Truckee plays a pair of league games at Spring Creek and Lowry on Friday and Saturday.
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