CAMDEN — Down 51-36 with over half of the third quarter gone by, Preble Shawnee coach Dale Spitler Jr. had a simple message to the Arrows.
“You just keep chipping away,” he said. “We wanted to gives ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter, and so if we can get it down to single digits going into the fourth, I said, ‘There’s a lot that can happen.’”
Shawnee not only got the deficit down to single digits but made it a two-point game down 53-51, outscoring the Northridge Polar Bears 15-2 through the remainder of the third quarter after falling behind by 15 points.
From there, Shawnee senior Bryce Singleton and freshman Mason Shrout took over, each scoring 9 points in the fourth quarter to close out the comeback win 72-69.
“Really proud of our guys,” Spitler said. “League wins are tough to get, specifically with Northridge. We always have good games with them and they’re always a quality program.”
The Arrows played close with Northridge throughout the first half, leading on two occasions, 17-16 and 21-18, before falling behind 33-29 at the half.
Northridge scored seven straight to open the third quarter, eventually increasing their lead to 15 before Shawnee began to whittle the deficit down.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Arrows took a 53-51 lead, one which they would not relinquish, though it did not come without a late scare.
After going up 71-66, Northridge hit a 3-pointer with fewer than seven seconds remaining.
On Shawnee’s ensuing inbound pass, officials ruled that the Shawnee player receiving the pass stepped out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Polar Bears with a chance to win the game.
Northridge got the inbound pass and had an open look on a corner 3-pointer, but the shot bounced in and out.
After securing the rebound, Shrout was sent to the free-throw line where he closed the game out 72-69, a win which Spitler said everybody chipped in on.
The final foul was one of 22 committed by the Polar Bears, compared to 18 by Preble Shawnee. The Arrows were 16-of-24 from the free-throw line, turning in a much better performance from the key than Northridge, who was 4-of-17.
“Being a league game against Northridge, we know that they’re gonna bring it every time,” Spitler said. “League wins are tough to get. We scout each other, we know each other, we’ve been going against each other for years. We know that there are not any easy league games.”
With 27 points and 14 rebounds, Singleton has picked up where he left off last season after being named First-Team All-League, averaging 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds through two games.
Turning in an equally strong 25 points and 14 rebounds, Shrout has impressed as a freshman.
“We’ve known about him for a while and a lot of people that followed basketball knew about him,” Spitler said. “He’s pretty well known in the area, but still, it’s a big jump from junior high to varsity. Even though he plays a higher level AAU, coming out here and playing against 17, 18-year-olds, it’s a big jump, but we know he’s obviously got the skill.”
The guard duo should return dividends for the Arrows this season with Singleton looking to finish a strong career and Shrout continuing to develop for Preble Shawnee.
“You’ve got two guys like that, two horses like that, giving me that kind of effort, not only scoring-wise, but rebounding0wise, attacking the glass, being active – they didn’t let some of the stuff that happened early in the game carry over to to the second half, and I thought they did a really good job bouncing back and being resilient and sticking with it,” Spitler said.
Moving forward, Spitler hopes the win continues to give the Arrows confidence when they hit the court.
“Oakwood was a tough game last week, and it was the first game for a lot of our guys, but it was great to bounce back and get this one tonight,” he said.
The Arrows were scheduled to play at Waynesville on Tuesday, Dec. 8, and at home against Dixie on Friday, Dec. 11. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles