Creek tops Red Riders

IN THE LANE — Weir High’s Lyric Washington takes a shot in the lane against Indian Creek’s Austin Freshwater during the first half of Tuesday’s game in Wintersville. The Redskins won 29-27. (Mike Mathison)

WINTERSVILLE — Indian Creek coach Joe Dunlevy figures the shot Austin Freshwater took late in Tuesday’s game with Weir is one he has put up a “million times before.”

This time, however, the game was on the line and the gymnasium was packed with spectators.

The senior’s jumper in the lane found nothing but net with 3.5 seconds showing and lifted the Redskins to an exciting 29-27 victory over the Red Riders.

“I’ve said this before when kids make a shot like Freshwater made tonight — he’s already made that shot a million times before in this gym or at the Y or in a park somewhere with nobody else around,” Dunlevy stressed.

“He has put in an exorbitant amount of time to improve his game.

“He was our defensive guy last year and still is playing great defense for us. But he’s put in the time in order to be trusted to take that shot at the end of game.”

Freshwater’s game-winner came about 50 ticks after Weir’s Lyric Washington knotted the score with a nifty reverse layup. Following Washington’s deuce, each team was guilty of a turnover and the Riders missed a golden opportunity to take the lead when a two-on-one break failed to produce points.

“That was a tough loss but our kids are getting better,” said veteran Weir coach Mike Granato. “We just need that pay off at the end of the day. We’ve had a couple of games like this.

“I thought we had a break at the end of the game, I really thought we had it, but it’s one of those things that occur. Their kid stepped up and made the shot at the end.”

Points were at a premium all evening thanks to tremendous defensive efforts by both squads. The Redskins played their usual tough man to man defense while Weir used a box and one, designed to stop Creek’s Greg Wade. Granato’s plan worked as Wade would record just four points, all coming from the line during the final frame.

“Our guys did a great job of following the game plan defensively,” Granato commented. “I thought at times we frustrated Creek and that doesn’t normally happen, particularly on this court, but I thought we did that at times tonight.

“I just can’t say enough about the effort of my team. A lot of teams coming in at 0-8 would bag it. These guys ain’t bagging it.”

Dunlevy noted Creek’s defensive effort the last two games has been outstanding.

“After a game we go over a bunch of things that maybe we did wrong,” he said. “But you can’t question their hearts. You have to have big hearts to play defense the way they play defense, the way the battle and go after loose balls. I told them after the game that I’m proud of them.”

Creek led 7-6 after the opening period and 16-15 at the break. The first half featured six lead changes and two ties.

Dunlevy’s crew opened the third on a 5-0 run to make it 21-15. Four straight points by Nick Krutilla made it 21-19 and Weir made it 21-20 heading into the fourth thanks to a Lavelle Hall free throw.

Two Wade freebies started the fourth then Weir’s Frank Hudacheck buried a triple to make it 24-23. Freshwater responded with a hoop then Levi Mikula went two for two from the line. Another Wade free throw put the score at 27-25.

“People said to me Weir has not won yet and I said please don’t say that because it’s coming for them,” Dunlevy stated. “We have watched them and they have kids who work hard, are getting better and are hungry. I’m glad we got this win because Weir is getting hungry.

“Mike’s been at it for a long time, he has them going in the right direction. I don’t care if they are 0-9 or whatever, they are going to be pretty good.”

Austin Judson led Creek, now 6-6, with six points and Freshwater finished with five. Weir’s Krutilla took game scoring honors with eight. Hudacheck and Mikula had five each.

The Red Riders return to the hardwood Friday, visiting Madonna for the annual Weirton city championship game. Creek is off until Jan. 17 when Beaver Local visits.

“A 29-27 score is not exactly what you are looking for in terms of excitement in a basketball game,” Granato noted. “If you were here tonight and saw our effort, you certainly wouldn’t think we were an 0-8 team.”

Indian Creek 29, Weir 27

Weir 6 9 5 7 — 27

Indian Creek 7 9 5 8 — 29

WEIR (0-9): Hall 0 1-3 1; Gresko 0 0-2 0; Hudacheck 2 0-0 5; Faulks 1 0-0 2; Anderson 2 0-0 4; Mikula 1 2-2 5; Krutilla 4 0-1 8; Washington 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 11 3-8 27. 3-pointers: Hudacheck, Mikula; Rebounds: 27 (Mikula 9); Turnovers: 19.

INDIAN CREEK (6-6): Wade 0 4-6 4; Norris 1 0-0 2; Freshwater 2 1-2 5; Eakle 2 0-0 4; Yaich 2 0-0 4; Judson 3 0-0 6; Crawford 0 0-0 0; Pugh 1 0-0 3; Waggoner 0 1-4 1. TOTALS: 11 6-12 29. 3-pointers: Pugh; Rebounds: 21 (Wade 6); Turnovers: 14.