by Frank Platko ’18
After defeating Northwood in the first round of the playoffs, 72-57, the boys’ varsity basketball season came to a close last week, as the Warriors fell to the Paint Branch Panthers by a score of 85-66.
After a competitive first quarter, the Warriors trailed by only five points, 20-15. However, the Panthers gradually expanded their lead as the game went on, outscoring the Warriors in the next two quarters by a combined fourteen points.
Although they failed to defeat Paint Branch in either of their regular season meetings, the Warriors were confident they could pull off the upset. They almost defeated the Panthers in their prior matchup on January 31, when they lost by only three points, 70-67. Senior guard Davis Long was absent from the contest.
However, much like their regular season matchups, the Warriors were beat in the rebounding, fast break and three-point departments, which ultimately played the difference. Long paced the team in scoring with 25 points. Fellow seniors Josh Salzer and Khari Johnson had 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Paint Branch went on defeat Springbrook in the next round of the playoffs, 74-54. However, they lost to Perry Hall in their next matchup.
On the season, the Warriors finished with a regular season record of 11-9. They lost both of their contests in the Walter Hardy Invitational Tournament, and split 1-1 in the playoffs. Although their record is nearly identical to last year, the Warriors faced more adversity this season.
“The season obviously didn’t end the way we wanted, but i’m proud of our guys for competing all season,” said Long. “We had a lot of injuries to some of our top guys and [still] put ourselves in a position to succeed.”
Despite missing nearly a month of action due to an ankle injury, Long led the team in scoring with 14.2 PPG, followed by fellow seniors Donovan Lacey and Josh Salzer at 10.9 PPG and 8.5 PPG, respectively. Lacey also paced the team in rebounding and steals, averaging 6.4 RPG and 2.6 SPG. Senior guard Brad Riley was the team-leader in assists with 3.2 per game.
While the Warriors will surely miss this production next year, they’ll look to returning varsity contributors to continue to make strides, like junior and sophomore forwards Domenico Martella and Nate Lacey.
Coaches Tim Gilchrist and Randy Thompson will look to lead the Warriors to a more impressive finish next season.