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Examiner
  • BLAZING A TRAIL

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  • It was a humorous line at the time, but ultimately too prophetic for William Chrisman boys basketball coach Chad Wright.
    With 1:33 left in the third quarter and his team clinging to a 42-41 lead against visiting Noland Road rival Truman, a scoreboard error inadvertently added three points to Chrisman’s tally. When the referees noticed the correction being made, they brought Wright and Truman coach Billy Guinnee to the scorer’s table for a quick confirmation.
    Upon hearing the explanation, Wright quipped, “But we need those points,” sending both coaches back to their benches with a smile.
    Nobody in the packed Chrisman gym could have guessed the Bears were about to hit an eight-minute scoring drought, one that allowed Truman to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 58-51 victory and right to cart home the Three Trails Trophy.
    Wright said he could sense how true his little joke was at the time, as Truman (4-8) had crawled back from a 12-point deficit early in the third quarter. When Keith Fletcher’s steal led to Dewayne Thornton’s layup for the 42-41 score, it was the first time the game had been that close.
    “We started pressing; we stopped doing the things that made us successful,” said Wright, whose team shot 3 of 15 from the field in the fourth quarter and fell to 6-6. “I called timeout and asked them to attack the basket, and we come out and shoot five 3s. We were pressing and not getting to the basket, and they’re getting to the basket. Layups and free throws win games.”
    It was a reversal from the first half, when Chrisman scored the game’s first nine points and hit four 3-pointers on its way to a 21-12 first-quarter lead. The Bears maintained a 34-26 lead into halftime, and baskets from Randall Horn and Brett Pendergist made it 38-26 early in the third.
    Truman then switched to a 2-3 zone defense that Chrisman never solved. Fletcher and Deandre Young’s baskets in the paint, with Michael Hernandez’s steal leading to Thornton’s three-point play in between, quickly had the Patriots back in it at 38-33.
    “We played as a team,” Thornton said of the team’s rally. “The first half we didn’t play as a team. Our offense was horrendous, actually. We picked it up, especially on defense, and we got good looks.”
    Thornton, who led all players with 20 points, returned after halftime having missed the final minutes of the second quarter when he dislocated his left pinkie during a loose-ball scramble.
    “I knew I was going to come back,” said the junior guard, who had the injured digit splinted to the ring finger. “I wanted to be a team leader and come back.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Alex Ball gave Chrisman a brief reprieve, driving for a three-point play to truly make it 45-41 with 1:03 left in the third. But the Bears’ next points didn’t come until Horn scored down low with 1:01 left in the game, which made it 53-47.
    Chrisman missed its first 10 shots of the fourth – ranging from behind the arc to 10-footers to putback attempts – as well as the front end of a one-and-one at the free-throw line.
    Thornton’s assist to Dominic Jones late in the third started Truman’s closing push, and he had both Patriot field goals in the fourth. Hernandez (14 points, 3 assists) and Quinton Brown combined to make 10 of 14 free throws, as Truman had been in the bonus since the 1:55 mark of the third.
    “We did a better job of blocking out and didn’t let them have many second chances,” Guinnee said of the second half, “and we did a much better job with shot selection.”
    “In our offense, if we don’t move and we stand and watch one guy dribble, we don’t score. I felt we could get to the rim if we were patient.”
    Fletcher grabbed 11 rebounds and Reid Titus seven as Truman owned a 38-24 advantage on the boards.
    Horn scored 11 of his team-high 17 in the first quarter for Chrisman. Ball finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds and Pendergist chipped in nine points, but no other Bear had more than three.

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