HOLMES TOWNSHIP – It’s called the House of Thrills for a reason.
Friday night, the Wynford Royals welcomed in the 2015-16 boys basketball season by hosting the Temple Christian Crusaders at W.R. Donnenwirth Gymnasium. What ensued was complete chaos that ended with a 69-68 Royals win.
The Royals came out with a slow start. Trailing 17-13 after the first horn, the Royals came out with an intense effort on both sides of the floor to take an 11-point lead into the locker room. The Royals outscored the Crusaders 24-9 in the second frame.
“They (Temple Christian) were scrappy and completely outhustled us in the first,” Wynford coach Jason Engel said. They were on every loose ball.”
At one point, early in the third, the Royals held a 17-point lead when the Crusaders found a new rhythm. Senior guard Nick Standridge took it upon himself to get his team back in the game, scoring 12 points in the quarter to cut the Wynford lead to 4.
“Our team is built for big runs,” Temple Christian coach Brad Humble said. “We have some guys that can shoot the ball and we press really well.”
The final frame was an epic basketball battle. The Crusaders saw Jacob McClelland sink a three, make a steal and sink another trey within a span of 10 seconds that forced the Royals to take a timeout trailing by four. The Royals then responded with some defense of their own.
“We finally pressed like we should,” Engel said. “We had our backs against the wall and we had some guys with foul trouble that hurt our press, but in the end we made some plays, got some tips and forced some turnovers.”
The Royals forced three straight turnovers with under two minutes remaining and regained the lead. Thirty seconds remained when the Royals called a timeout with a two-point lead. Zach Hoffman stepped to the line and buried two free throws to take a four-point lead and the Royals could breathe, for a second.
The Crusaders quickly advanced the ball and Darien David drilled his second triple of the night to cut the lead to one. The ensuing Royal possession saw junior guard Jack Reed sink two more clutch free throws. The Crusaders added a pair of free throws with two seconds remaining, but the Royals were able to run out the clock and open the season with a victory.
“It was a little sloppy, but we will take it,” Engel said. “We just made a few more plays down the stretch. Hand it to Temple Christian, that team played hard.”
The Crusaders did not substitute in a player until one minute remained in the game. They committed just 16 turnovers and forced 20 with a scrappy defense. But it was the tree turnovers down the stretch that ultimately did them in.
“First game, it comes down to who makes less mistakes and I guess we made one less one tonight,” Engel said.
Before the season, Engel showed his team the stats from a year ago, and they showed the Royals averaged just two points less than their opponents per game. Friday night, the Royals were plus-1 in the scoring column.
“We talk about every possession mattering and meaning everything in the world,” Engel said. “We fouled them and boxed out and hung on, but every possession was a war.”
Senior Alex Crall led all Royals with 18 points. He also grabbed five boards and dished our four assists. Reed finished with 16 points and five assists, and junior forward Jordan Creel scored 14 points and snatched 13 boards in the win. Senior post Nate Sparks added 10 points and James Ort grabbed seven rebounds.
Standridge led all scorers with 23 points despite only scoring two in the first half. He also grabbed 10 rebounds. McClelland scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Davis scored 12 points and Abe Kurtz chipped in with 11. Jordan Martin added eight points to round out the scoring.
The Royals begin 2015-16 with a 1-0 record and will host Shelby on Saturday.
Temple Christian 17-9-18-24 — 68
Wynford 13-24-11-21 — 69
Temple Christian: 13-25 FG, 15-21 FT, 9-29 3pt. (Standridge 2, McClelland 2, Kurtz 2, Davis 2, Martin 1) 23 rebounds (Standridge 10), 16 turnovers, 14 Assists (Standridge 4). Scoring: Standridge 6 9 23; McClelland 4 4 14; Davis 5 0 12; Kurtz 4 1 11; Martin 3 1 8
Wynford: 19-39 FG, 19-23 FT, 4-16 3pt. (Reed 2, Crall 2) 38 rebounds (Creel 13), 20 turnovers, 15 Assists (Reed 5). Scoring: Crall 5 6 18; Reed 5 4 16; Creel 7 0 14; Sparks 3 4 10; Hoffman 1 3 5; Ort 1 2 4; Tea 1 0 2