CAMDEN —Joby Williams sank two free throws with 4 seconds left on the clock and the Preble Shawnee Arrows earned an opening night victory over the Eaton Eagles on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 0-3 — the team dropped three games in the first five nights of the regular season.
The Arrows closed the first quarter on an 8-3 run to take a 21-14 lead after the opening quarter. The Eagles spent the rest of the night chasing the lead.
Eaton received a boost in the second quarter when freshman Jason Sneed scored seven points in the first five minutes to help cut the lead to two at 25-23.
Both offenses struggled the remainder of the quarter, with Preble Shawnee only scoring four points in the first seven minutes.
The Eagles ended the long scoring drought when Trey Smith sank two free throws to tie the game at 25.
Lane Conway was fouled on a layup with 44 seconds left in the half to give the Arrows a two point lead as Conway headed to the line.
The free throw was off the mark, but the Arrows grabbed an offensive rebound and 15 seconds later Kevin Ketring hit a three for a five-point lead heading into halftime.
The Eagles finally took the lead at 34-32 and Preble Shawnee showed a trap defense for the first time in the game.
The teams remained close until Eaton had two turnovers against the Arrow pressure leading to back-to-back layups. Shawnee extended the lead to 42-36.
The Eagles clawed their way back as they had done several times throughout the game when Smith scored twice in a row to tie the game at 52-52 with 3:38 to play.
With a just over a minute left, Daniel Howard scored to tie the game at 58-58 apiece and the Arrows called a timeout with time winding down.
With 40 seconds left, Williams found a cutting Ketring who missed the layup and Eaton ran the ball back at the Arrows.
The Eagles decided to play the clock out and it nearly worked, as the team got a shot in the paint. The shot didn’t fall and the second chance missed as well before Thomas Buell finally cleared the boards for the Arrows.
Buell fired a pass just past half court to Williams, who was fouled by Eaton’s Ronnie Lindsey as he was going for the steal.
With four seconds left Williams stepped to the line and calmly drained two free throws for the Arrows’ win.
Afterwards, head coach Jason Crider spoke about Williams: “I told the team congratulations, that’s our biggest rival and you got to go out beating them. I looked at Joby and told him congratulations — you got to step up and ice the game.”
Eaton head coach John Tollefson however was talking about a freshman. “ On the bright side, our freshman Jason Sneed played two whole quarters today — we knew he’d eventually be ready, we just didn’t know it would be this early.”
When asked about the decision not to call a time out, Tollefson said, “The goal was to run our transition offense and for whatever reason we were supposed to get a timeout on the catch — I’m not really sure why the referee didn’t give us one, so it wasn’t by design.”
Tollefson also spoke about the beginning of the game. “If we would have handled our business for the whole game, like defending in the first quarter, it never comes down the end. In the locker room we didn’t talk about the end, we talked about the beginning of the game.”
While Williams scored the two most important points, it was Buell who led the team throughout the game, scoring 20 and grabbing nine rebounds.
Williams scored nine and dished out six assists while sophomore Joey Bates scored 10 and led the team with 11 rebounds.
For the Eagles it was Smith leading the scoring with 16 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Trevor Pittman scored 10 and chipped in eight rebounds. Daniel Howard led the team with 13 rebounds.
On Friday, Dec. 4, the Arrows defeated Middletown Madison to start the season off 2-0.
This time it was Buell who scored the winning free throws as he made one with just around 30 seconds left. Madison had its chances before Buell grabbed his second game-winning rebound of the season and dribbled the clock out.
The Arrows got a big boost from senior Vince Bulach, who shot 7-11 from three on his way to 21 points for the game.
According to Crider, it was Bulach’s sharpshooting that opened the paint for Buell and Bates in the second half.
Buell scored 14 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Bates added eight points and five rebounds. Williams led the team with six assists.
“I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day,” Crider said after his team picked up two wins in the final minute of both games to start the season.
The Eagles however lost their fourth straight to start the season when it fell to Franklin on the same night, 85-76.
Pittman led the Eagles with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Howard added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Arrows (2-0) host Milton Union on Friday, Dec. 11 and the Eagles (0-4) host Talawanda on Tuesday, Dec. 8 before traveling to Bellbrook on Friday, Dec. 11.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.