For at least one night on Tuesday, Dec. 9, The Pit at Triway High School nearly transformed itself into a set on a once popular TV series.
At one point in the third quarter of the game between Triway and West Holmes, it is quite possible that most fans were awaiting the arrival of Rod Serling, who would surely pop into center court mysteriously and began talking about the game in that hauntingly eerie voice he exhibited as host of the Twilight Zone television series.
Serling never showed, and the game did eventually get back to normal, the Knights finishing off the Titans by a 57-45 count.
Both teams used constant pressure throughout this sloppy game to force 37 turnovers, 20 for Triway and 17 for West Holmes.
But it would be West Holmes which would get the better of things in the shooting statistics, with Triway going absolutely frigid from the arc, misfiring on all nine of its attempts from deep. The Titans also missed from close range plenty of times early on in finding themselves trailing 9-2 after Nate Hall and Josh Neer canned triples.
Logan Garrett finally got Triway headed in the right direction with a pair of buckets, but Neer connected again from downtown to stretch the lead back to 12-8.
After Miles Sprang hit two free throws, Neer scored inside and Hall hit two charity tosses to give the Knights a 16-10 first quarter edge.
The second quarter was almost all West Holmes, as Neer took over, scoring seven points. When the Knights showed some tremendous ball movement at the end of the half and found Hall standing wide open from the corner, his three gave West Holmes a 32-19 lead at the break.
The two teams pretty much traded buckets through much of the third quarter, until things got a little weird.
With the Knights up 43-28 after scores from Connor Roach and Neer, West Holmes’ Trevor Kiner grabbed a Triway miss and the kicked it out to Chase Wells. Wells’ wild shot at the other end sailed up and hit the mooring above the backboard, and then all kinds of funky stuff went down.
The whistles blew.
Triway had six players running around on the floor.
After a lengthy wait in which Hall stood at the free throw line awaiting what would surely be two technical free throw attempts, the Knights were in dismay as officials claimed their hands were tied because it was a dead ball.
With fans and coaches clamoring for clarification, the Titans took the ball out right around the Twilight Zone.
About one minute later, after Triway’s Tyson Cook had scored inside to carve the Knights lead to 43-32, the clock and scoreboard went dark.
Again the game ground to a halt.
Serling had to be lurking.
With the clock back in action, a Knights miss led to a Parker Carmichael lay-up, and suddenly at the end of the third quarter the Titans were within shouting distance at 43-34.
A Luke Ogi score inside and a bucket by Triway guard Jordan Miller kept the spread at nine, but West Holmes buckled down. Ogi scored again, and Neer followed suit. When Kiner put in a lay-up, West Holmes’ lead had ballooned to 51-36.
The final three minutes played out without Triway able to mount a comeback, and West Holmes had advanced to 2-0, escaping The Pit with a win.
“I thought for the most part the kids played well,” said West Holmes coach Keith Troyer. “We had too many turnovers, and we didn’t take care of the ball and had some poor decisions in the fourth quarter, but those are all things that can be corrected.
“As far as coming in here and competing, and playing hard, the kids who came off the bench had a great game. Trevor Kiner had great game. He rebounded well tonight. Josh (Neer) was solid again tonight. Overall everybody contributed.”
The rebounds were close, with West Holmes holding a slight edge at 27-24. It was the shooting numbers which were the big difference, with Triway making 16-of-42 for 36 percent, while West Holmes canned 21-of-44 for 48 percent. The Knights also connected on 5-of-12 3-pointers, giving them a massive edge beyond the arc.
“There were a lot of areas where we struggled, and we didn’t play as hard as I think we are capable of playing,” said Triway coach B.J. Sanderson, who saw his team dip to 0-2. “I thought last Friday night at Northwestern we played extremely hard. I don’t think we played as hard tonight. I have seen us play much harder.”
Sanderson was not about to throw any excuses around as to the performance. He said it is time for the team to come together and play as a unit, which included shooting some better numbers from the floor.
With a dearth of big men, Sanderson said his team is going to have to gain the confidence in its shooting ability to turn things around.
“We have made 2-of-28 threes, and that is not going to win many games,” said Sanderson. “With our lack of size we have to shoot the ball well. We missed the first seven shots of the game, and they were all within 10 feet. If we make three of those, it’s 9-8, and we aren’t having to use all of our energy to fight back into it.”
One thing Triway did do all night was pressure the ball full court, and in a tight space like The Pit, that kind of harassment can cause plenty of miscues. They were able to, but Troyer felt his Knights held up under that pressure pretty well, even when Neer had to leave with tow fouls in the first half.
“With Chase as a freshman and some of these sophomores, they have been thrown into the fire right away, and so far they have handled it pretty well,” said Troyer. “The big thing I was disappointed about the most was our decision making down the stretch when we forced some things with a big lead, and didn’t need to. That was from three guys who are experienced, but again, that can be fixed.”
Neer led all scorers with 19, a nifty follow-up to his game one 26 point effort. He got plenty of help from Hall, who dropped in a dozen, with Kiner adding eight, Drew Schrock tacking on seven, Cline scoring five and Ogi adding four.
For the Titans, Sprang led the way with 10, while Miller and Gabe Walker each scored eight and Garrett added six.
“We’re never satisfied, there are always things to work on,” said Troyer of the 2-0 beginning. “But it is a good start to the season. For the most part what we have been looking for is the effort, and that effort has been there.”
The Knights had entered another dimension, The Pit, and fended off a pesky Titans team that is tough to beat there. They had journeyed through the dimension of imagination, through an area called the Twilight Zone.