One tweak to the play book was all it took for the Bandys Trojans to advance over the Lincolnton Wolves 69-62 in the first round of the Midwest 2A Conference Tournament Tuesday night at Lincolnton.
Trojansâ€™ head coach Mark Lynch altered one thing on an existing play entering the final stanza due to the Wolves showing point guard and 3-point specialist so much defensive attention.
Power forward Andrew Fearheiley, at 6â€™2â€, took full advantage of the play time and again, reeling off 12 fourth-quarter points. Eight came in the final three minutes.
â€œWe decided they were playing pretty hard man-to-man, so we decided to put in a last-minute play. It was a pick across the lane for me and just converted on some shots. It worked good, but the key was we ran it right,â€ Fearheiley said.
â€œWe concentrated on getting the ball inside, thatâ€™s the biggest thing. We had shot threes and we sort of got cold, so we tried to get it inside. When we did, we got Fearheily the ball and he put it in the hole for us,â€ Lynch said.
Five straight points by Zack Gibson helped tie the contest 59-59. Fearheily, after missing two free throws, found himself free underneath the basket for a lay-up putting the Trojans up 63-60.
After a Lincolnton turnover on the Wolves ensuing possession, Lance Friday answered bringing the Wolves within one.
A baseline leaner with 1:32 by Fearheiley extended the lead to three. Following a Bandysâ€™ stop on defense, Clay Mackie drove the lane and dished off to Jaime Frye on his right. Frye found Fearheiley for a lay-up. The play resembled the Boston Celtics from yesteryear putting the Trojans up 67-62 with a minute remaining.
Gibson shot a three-pointer from deep that rimmed out on the following possession. The Wolves earned three offensive rebounds resulting in three more shots, but were unable to score in the next 40 seconds.
The game saw 12 lead changes and four ties. The Trojans nailed six three-pointers in the first half and nine in the game. Four different Bandysâ€™ players connected from long distance.
â€œA lot of that (Bandysâ€™ three-pointers has to do with them shooting it with no pressure. We lose our man, or get caught in a screen and theyâ€™re shooting stand-still jumpers. There are a lot of people that shoot the ball well, if you let them shoot stand-still jumpers,â€ Wolvesâ€™ head coach Bob Cowie said.
Conversely, the Wolves made only four. Gibson made three of those, while reserve guard Jeremy Smith nailed one in the second quarter.
Smith had seven second quarter points in the final 2:38.
After Dusty Friday narrowed the lead to 34-32, an inexplicable foul by the Wolves near mid-court sent Clay Mackie to the charity stripe with no time remaining. Mackie made two-of-three, sending the Trojans into the locker room with a four-point lead. The play was, perhaps, even bigger in terms of momentum.
Timmy Harper and Fearheiley led Bandys and the game with 18 points. Clay Mackie contributed 14 helping the Trojans advance to a second round match-up against the No. 1 seed East Rutherford Cavaliers. Fearheiley, who averages five blocks a game, also had a handful of blocks to his credit. Harper made four 3-pointers.
Gibson led Lincolnton with 17, with 11 coming in the second half. Lance Friday added 11, while Jammelle Jefferies chipped in with 10.
â€œHe did it on a play we drew up on the board right before game. We walked through it yesterday in practice and he continues to score on the same exact play,â€ Cowie said of Fearheileyâ€™s fourth-quarter outburst, who had only two first-half points.
Another reason for the Wolvesâ€™ early-round exit was turnovers in the final quarter.
â€œThere were times we turned it over for no reason. I thought we took some quick shots. We had some big possessions where I thought there was nobody on the ball and we just turned it over. You certainly canâ€™t do that down the stretch,â€ Cowie said.
Barring the Trojans running the table in the MW 2A Tournament, the Wolves are already in the 2A State Playoffs where they will face Lexington or Salisbury. That was not on Cowieâ€™s mind after the game.
â€œWe need to hope someone beats Bandys. Thatâ€™s the thing we need to worry about right now. They shoot the ball like that, thereâ€™s a chance they can beat people.â€
Bandys 18 18 19 14-69
Lincolnton 12 20 19 11-62
TROJANS: Andrew Fearheiley 18, Timmy Harper 18, Clay Mackie 14, B. Edmunson 6, Jaime Frye 6, Matt Oaks 4, Kelsey McCleave 2.
WOLVES: Zack Gibson 17, Lance Friday 11, Jammelle Jefferies 10, J. Smith 7, D. Friday 6, K. Snyder 5, D. Williams 4, P.J. Hamright 2.
Zack Gibson shoots a 3-pointer over Timmy Harper. Gibson made three in the contest, while Harper connected on four from the perimeter. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by John Mark Brooks