Wildcats ‘finish’ against Panthers
RICHMOND – This past week, the Edison coaching staff has stressed “finishing.”
On Friday, the Wildcats responded with a closing performance over Buckeye Local.
After leading by nearly 20 points in the first half, Edison held off the Panthers with a 57-43 win, thanks to a strong fourth quarter.
“We’ve had leads in the fourth quarter before and it’s good to finish a game,” Wildcats coach Nate Moses said before taking a deep breath and letting out a laugh. “We finished the game. That’s it.”
It’s easy to understand Moses’ euphoria. Relief, rather.
The Wildcats’ four losses have come by a combined 13 points. In the season opener, they blew a 22-point lead to Toronto before falling, 74-72.
Before Friday, Edison’s one win was a 59-57 overtime victory over Martins Ferry on Dec. 15. Still, it allowed the Purple Riders to score 24 in the third quarter after holding them to just three in the second.
That kind of run almost happened again against Buckeye Local.
Edison’s 29-16 halftime lead was cut to five points at the 2:26 mark of the third quarter when Jonathon Brokoski stole a pass and took it the distance for a lay up.
Austin Hyndman sparked a fourth quarter rally for the Wildcats with a steal and two of his own to put them up 48-33 midway through.
“In the fourth quarter, we buckled down and ran through the offense and that’s the key,” Moses said.
Edison point guard Erik Lee scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. The junior added two assists, a steal and lead the team with 13 rebounds.
“When things got tight we got ourselves together in the huddle and went back out ready to play,” Lee said. “Coach just told us to stay calm and play our basketball, don’t play what they play, take care of the ball and don’t be intimidated by the press.”
After shooting 0 of 15 from the floor in the first quarter and not making a field goal until Brennan Czuchran’s jumper on the right wing three-point line, 6:38 into the second quarter, Panthers coach Greg Haberfield had to make a change for the second half.
“We actually stressed more on the defensive side,” Haberfield said. “Our offense will buy into what we do on the defensive end. When we could get some stops, we’d come down and try to simplify the offense.
“It gave us some positive outlooks on that end. Once we got a few to drop, the guys got some confidence back.”
Czuchran finished with a game-high 23 points with 11 rebounds. Brokoski added nine points to go with seven rebounds. The Panthers (0-6) shot 17 of 61 from the floor. The Wildcats didn’t fare much better converting 19 of 62.
“Our problem has been consistency,” Moses said. “We play really well at times then we hit a mental lapse and things break down. We’re getting better, though.”
Edison held a 38-30 rebounding advantage. Skylar Wilken pulled down eight boards and scored a team-high 20 points, with four 3-pointers. Hyndman made four steals and scored eight points. Austin Horan also added eight.
The Wildcats play at Southern Local on Monday, while Buckeye Local travels to Minerva on Dec. 28.