Some holes are just to big to dig your way out of. Just ask Keith Troyer and his West Holmes Knights.
In their game with the Orrville Red Riders Friday, Dec. 2 in Orrville, the Knights found themselves trailing by as many as 18 points and by 16 points late in the third quarter, and not even a spirited comeback attempt could lift them past the Red Riders, who held on for a 61-57 win to open the year.
Ki’Shea Benjamin got Orrville started right, popping in a trey to give the Red Riders a 6-0 advantage out of the gate. West Holmes responded with a couple of buckets inside from Josh Goudy and Connor Roach, and when Orrville’s John McClure scored on a put-back and West Holmes’ Blaine Hager scored on a back-door cut, Orrville was up 8-6.
Then the Red Riders gashed the Knights with an 11-0 run that created the huge hole for West Holmes. Benjamin started the run with a drive and another triple, and R’Mani Robinson ended it with a steal and a lay-up. After one, West Holmes was looking at a gaping 19-6 deficit.
West Holmes got to within 19-11 on a Brayden Chaney 3-pointer, but scores by Jake Fitzgerald and another put-back by McClure kept the red Rider’s lead at 12. That was where it stood at the half, with Orrville leading 27-15.
Orrville came roaring out of the locker room, reeling off six straight to take a 33-15 lead. Robinson, Benjamin and Fitzgerald all scored on drives to produce that lead, and the Red Riders were on the verge of blowing this one wide open.
However, the Knights were about to show some life. Chase Wells scored on a short jumper, and after Fitzgerald scored, he was assessed a technical foul. Hager made both free throws, and Roach hit a jumper to make it 35-21 Orrville.
When Benjamin dropped home another trey, Orrville bumped the lead out to 40-23, but West Holmes was ready to claw its way back into contention. Freshman Chance Wells scored his first varsity points on a put-back, Trenton Bridenthal hit a pair of free throws and Chance Wells then connected on a pair of free throws and a jumper, and just like that the Knights were back to within 10 points at 43-33.
Logan Domer’s jumper ended the third quarter with Orrville up 45-33, but the Knights were far from done charging.
Chaney hit a pair of free throws for the Knights, McClure answered with a score inside and Roach split a pair of free throws. Fitzgerald scored to give Orrville a 49-36 edge, but Roach hammered home a triple to cut the lead to 49-39. Roach then hit a free throw, but Ben Summers responded with a score inside to give Orrville a 51-40 advantage.
Chase Wells hit a jumper and drove the lane for two, and after Chase Wells’ steal and ensuing score made it 51-46, with 2:14, it was game on.
After Robinson missed a jumper, the game came down to perhaps the biggest call of the night. Chase Wells drove the paint, and rammed into Benjamin. His shot went in, but the officials called a charge on Wells, and Robinson then went down and made two free throws, producing a possible five-point swing.
Down seven, Chance Wells knocked down a 3-pointer, but Summers scored on a pair of free throws and Robinson split a pair to move the lead back to seven at 56-49 with just over one minute to play.
Roach made two free throws, and Robinson split a pair to make it 57-51. Orrville got a stop, with Summers getting a huge steal, and Robinson again split two free throws to make it 58-51.
Chase Wells drove in for two, but Benjamin, who had been money all night, hit two big free throws to make it 60-53. Chase Wells scored again on a drive, and the Knights fouled Robinson, who hit one free throw with 14 seconds to play. Chase Wells again scored on a driving bucket, but time expired and the Red Riders held on for the victory despite the torrid comeback bid by the Knights.
Benjamin led all scorers on the night with 22 points, while Robinson added 14 for the Red Riders. Summers, Fitzgerald and McClure all knocked in six points, while Domer added four and Trent Harrison scored three. McClure and Harrison both grabbed seven rebounds to pace Orrville’s 48-47 advantage on the glass, while Fitzgerald grabbed six and Robinson added five.
The Knights were led in scoring by Chase Wells, who tallied a team-high 20 points. Roach had a solid game, scoring 11 points and adding seven rebounds, while Chance Wells produced nine points. Chaney added five and Hager scored four for the Knights. Bridenthal hauled down five rebounds for the Knights.
Orrville had its biggest advantage from the floor, where it connected on a nifty 17-of-32 action shots, while West Holmes made only 16-of-49 on the night.