It took a gutty defensive effort and a sparkling shooting display in overtime from senior Seth Wynne…but Troy Christian handed Dayton Christian its first league loss.
Troy – There was an interesting irony to Troy Christian’s 52-49 win Friday night over Metro Buckeye League champion Dayton Christian. Actually, three of them.
One, it was Dayton Christian’s first league loss of the year. The Warriors now stand 10-6, and have clinched the Metro Buckeye League title.
Two, it atoned for an earlier Troy Christian loss back in December to that same Dayton Christian team. And for a school that knows a little something about atonement that’s doubly sweet.
And three, TC had to go to an extra overtime period to win it, their second overtime game of the year.
The irony in that? They lost the first one, their opening game, to Franklin-Monroe, having made just 8 of 24 free throw attempts in that game. They lost it at the foul line. But Friday they won it at the foul line when senior Seth Wynne, who scored 11 points for the game, shot 8 for 10 from the stripe over the final six minutes – and hit 7 of 8 during the overtime period!
It was hardly a textbook example of basketball. This is not the Troy Christian of 2012 that featured Grant Zawadzki impacting the outcome at both ends of the court. Rather, this is a team of scrappy, defensive-minded kids who more than make up for their lack of offensive firepower with their willingness to out-hustle, and outwork opponents. Friday was their latest example.
They outscored Dayton Christian 9-5 in the first quarter.
They held a 19-16 lead at the half. Their only real threat to dent the rim for the first sixteen minutes was 6’9” junior James Anderson, who scored 9 of those 19 points.
But Dayton Christian has some athletes, slashers who can beat you off the dribble, and they began to get to the lane and the rim in the third quarter, narrowing the margin to 30-29 by quarter’s end.
The Warriors put pressure on TC’s inexperienced backcourt, caused some turnovers – and turmoil – and at the 6:15 mark of the fourth DC finally took a 32-31 lead.
Undaunted, Payton Spurlock retook the lead for TC with a drive to the basket. Dayton answered, and back and forth the game would go for the next four minutes. With the Eagles leading 42-40 Dayton had the ball with 30 seconds on the clock. They worked it down to the 10 second mark before guard Matt Welker bowled over the Eagles’ Ben Schenk in the lane on his way to the basket for an awkward shot attempt…that went in.
It tied the score at 42-42 and Troy Christian could do little with their final possession in regulation. They played for the overtime period.
Enter Seth Wynne, who to that point of the game had one three-pointer to his credit and a made free throw in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. Fate, or destiny, put the basketball in his hands, and Dayton Christian, already with 10 fouls in the second half, fouled him – repeatedly.
Wynne, who at 5’10” looks more like the school’s valedictorian than a guy you’d see on the foul line with the game in the balance, coolly knocked down one…two…three…four…five…six in a row before finally missing the first of his final two attempts. He hit seven of eight from the line in overtime…to put pressure on Dayton Christian to answer at the other end.
But TC’s defense was clamping down on Dayton and held the Warriors scoreless for the first 2:12 seconds of OT before forward Brantley Mills finally connected on a three pointer. That cut the lead to 47-45, but on the ensuing possession Wynne found himself with the basketball and back at the foul line. We know now how that turned out.
He stretched the lead out to 52-47, and as the clock wound to zero Dayton scored one more time on a frustration dunk. Too little, and too late.
In an era where free throw efficiency is hardly noteworthy, Seth Wynne made it headline news with his performance in the final six minutes of the game.
“It’s my senior year, it’s Dayton Christian, a big game and I knew I had to make those shots,” he said afterwards, smiling. “Coach jinxed me or I wouldn’t have missed. But I give the credit to my team for getting me the ball and even putting me in that position. This was a team effort.”
And another irony that it was, because the Eagles left plenty of points on the table through turnovers, missed shots, and missed opportunities.
“For sure,” added Wynne. “And we’ve been struggling at the free throw line all year. But tonight was a big game and it was a tough overtime because your legs get tired from playing defense all night. But we practice for nights like this and tonight it worked out.”
Besides Wynne’s 11, James Anderson, all 6’9” and 270 pounds of him, took game-high honors with 20 points; and as impressively, finished with 17 hard-earned rebounds. Payton Spurlock had 8 points. Ben Schenk finished with 6. Jacob Brown, Joel Thomas, and Cameron Strine combined to score 7.
J.J. Thornhill and Matt Welker led Dayton Christian in scoring with 11 and 17 points, respectively.
“It was an amazing win,” admitted coach Ray Zawadzki of his team’s tenth against five losses. “In fact, it’s amazing that we’ve won ten games this year when we’ve collectively shot 49.8% from the foul line. So it was very exciting tonight to have a senior like Seth step up, take the bull by the horns, and say, ‘give me the ball and I’ll knock ‘em down.’ ‘Cause our team needed that . We needed this win. It’s still in our plans to be a tough out come tournament time.
“We’ve grown up since those early games in the year. We’re taking better care of the basketball, and now we’re more focused on getting defensive stops. There’s a lot teams that make a good living by playing defense and that’s what this team is beginning to understand. We’ve lost three close ballgames this year that we could have won with a stop here or a stop there.”
And of course, you can also win by executing the oldest tenet in basketball: When you’re standing at the foul line and no one’s guarding you…you have to make those shots.
“Our team needs a go-to guy late in the game to shoot free throws,” added Zawadzki as he headed for the door. “And I’m very pleased tonight to see that I’ve got a senior that can do that.”
And for this Friday night, in front of a loud, packed gym, that senior grew in the eyes of his teammates and his coach. Sweet! Given the irony, Troy Christian found a different way…to ‘Wynne’ a basketball game.