West Holmes Boys Basketball

Knights feel fortunate to slip out of Warsaw with a win in downing River View 64-58

A big night for Shane Jones helps Knights eke past Black Bears

Coaches usually care a lot about how their team performs. That is, after all, the very thing that determines their success throughout the year. Yet there are those rare occasions where a coach is just glad to get out of Dodge with a win, regardless of how his team played.

That was the case for West Holmes head coach Keith Troyer, who wasn’t thrilled with his team’s performance at River View High School on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The Knights had a rough start, then had one of those golden quarters where nothing goes wrong in the second quarter, only to see some sloppy ball in the second half. It all added up to a 64-58 win that improved the Knights to 4-2 on the season.

“With all of the second-chance points and offensive rebounds coupled with the huge number of layups we missed tonight, we definitely feel fortunate to get out of here with a win,” Troyer said. “Normally we don’t miss layups like that, but we missed a lot tonight, and defensively I didn’t think we played well from a standpoint that we let people do what they wanted to do and posting up wherever they wanted to, but we will take the win and move on.”

The tone for what would transpire on the defensive side of the ball was set in the game’s first possession, where River View got five shots at scoring thanks to offensive rebounds.

“We knew coming in that they were a good rebounding team, and we gave up a lot of second-chance points,” Troyer said.

The two teams battled to an 8-8 tie before Jorn Hoctor scored inside and Lucas Hunter buried a 3-pointer to give the Black Bears a 13-8 edge. However, West Holmes would find its footing and score the quarter’s final six points when Chase Wells hit two free throws, Shane Jones drove for a pair and Ethan Kinsey made a steal and scored to give the Knights a 14-13 edge through one quarter.

Then came a stretch in the second quarter that may have been as good as any stretch the Knights have put together this season. Leading 16-15, Bryce Myers hit a trey, and after River View took the lead back at 20-19, he struck again from downtown to put the Knights up 22-20. Keith Stewart tied the game at 22 on a put-back, but Jones made a sensational move inside that ignited a monster West Holmes’ run. Jacob Goudy hit a turnaround jumper, and Chase Wells made a steal and hit a jumper for a 28-22 lead. Chase Whitehair split a pair of free throws, but the Knights then found the range from deep. Jones scored on a put-back, and then Myers hit his third triple of the quarter before Chance Wells buried two deep balls of his own. Suddenly West Holmes was ahead 39-23 as it threatened to blow the game wide open. However, Black Bear Will Anderson drained a long three-ball as time expired to give River View momentum heading into the half.

“We gave up that three right before the half after playing so well, and I thought that was a key moment for them because it gave them a big boost of confidence when they really needed it,” Troyer said.

The 16-point West Holmes’ lead didn’t last long as River View quickly carved that disadvantage down to seven points at 40-33.

When Chase Wells connected on a jumper late in the quarter, the Knights still owned a 47-38 lead heading into the final frame, but things were about to get dicey.

Six straight points, led by Whitehair, got the Black Bears to within 47-44. Chase Wells then hit a pair of jumpers, and it looked like the Knights might avoid a collapse, but a huge run that saw Hunter take control saw the Black Bears creep to within one point at 53-52 with just over four minutes to play.

Jones scored inside yet again, but buckets from Whitehair and Stewart gave River View its first lead since it led 20-19 with 2:34 to play.

West Holmes quickly worked the ball inside to Jones, who scored and had a chance to add an and-one, but his miss was rebounded by Peyton McKinney, who found Chase Wells, who sliced through the River View defense for another score, making it 59-56. With 1:20 to play, Chance Wells split a pair of free throws, and then after getting a stop, Chase Wells was fouled and made two more free throws for a 62-56 lead.

With 56 seconds to play and trailing by six, River View took its time and let valuable seconds run off the clock before firing up a long three that hit the back iron. Jones was there again to snag the rebound, and Myers split a pair of free throws to make it a three-possession game. Still with life, River View flew down the floor, but Jones stepped in and made a key steal, sewing up the win.

“I thought Shane really came to play tonight and had a really great game,” Troyer said of his junior power forward. “We have been getting on him to be more aggressive offensively, and the last couple of games he has been looking to score. He can be a mismatch for a lot of teams because he is quick and strong inside, so it was good to see him have that kind of a game.”

West Holmes’ second half, squandering a 13-point lead, saw them lose focus offensively, and Troyer said they have to work on some fundamental things like taking better care of the ball.

“Just some little things that we need to improve on,” Troyer said. “I thought we quit moving the ball offensively and started trying to do it all one-on-one. We are at our best when we move the ball well, and we saw that in the second quarter. It was a learning experience, so we’re happy to get out of here with a win.”

Whitehair proved to be a load for the Knights, popping in 17 points to go with a game-high 14 rebounds. Hoctor added a dozen points, Huston scored 11 and Stewart pitched in with nine points for the 1-5 Black Bears.

The Knights were paced by Chase Wells’ game-high 23 points as the savvy senior went 11-of-12 from the charity stripe. Jones had a solid game with a 14-point, eight-rebound effort while Myers tacked on 11 points and Chance Wells scored 10. Goudy and Kinsey rounded out the Knights’ scoring with four and two points, respectively.

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