WHITINGHAM- From a spectator’s perspective, this game had everything: fast breaks, great ball movement, terrific action, and a startling comeback. From a coach’s perspective, however, it also added frustration, nervousness, and incredulity.
Up by as many as 21 points midway through the third quarter, the Twin Valley High School boys’ varsity basketball team saw its margin slowly evaporate in the fourth as Long Trail (3-2) closed to within three points. But the Wildcats made two defensive stops in the final seconds to hold on for a 43-39 win on Tuesday night.
“We had it working tonight; we played two and a half, three great quarters,” coach Chris Brown said. “Defense was awesome. I think we just ran out of gas.”
Which would certainly be understandable, because Twin Valley absolutely ran the Mountain Lions out of the gym for most of the first 24 minutes. The Wildcats led, 12-8, after the first quarter but pushed that lead to 14 at the half and 17 after the third with a combination of shutting down passing lanes and speeding out on the break. Long Trail, which prefers a half-court set offense, simply looked overmatched by the energy and athleticism of Twin Valley.
“We only gave up 25 points through three quarters,” Brown said. “But they had a 14-0 run to start the fourth to cut the lead, and we lost our energy. The wind just went out of our sails.”
Fortunately the gale of the previous three quarters sustained them, as the Wildcats managed just a single point in the final frame.
“We at least got a few defensive stops when we needed to in the final two or three minutes,” Brown said. “But we might have been a little complacent, and we missed a few easy shots.”
Senior Logan Park paced Twin Valley (2-3) with 14 points and eight rebounds, while junior Dylan Howe racked up another double-double with 11 points and 12 boards. Senior Cooper Pell added 10 points and five rebounds.
Despite the offensive struggles in the fourth quarter, Brown was excited by his team’s quick hands on defense and great speed in transition. The next step now, he said, is working on finishing — both finishing at the basket and finishing the game.
“All in all, I’m happy,” he said. “We got a lot of guys in and out of the game, which is great because we have a quick turnaround before our next game.”
Next up, Twin Valley hosts Poultney at 7 pm tonight as the Wildcats look to move to .500 on the season.