Every season there is one game that stands out above the rest. The Weston High 35-34 victory over Quitman that saw the Wolves rally from a 34-27 deficit with just a little over three minutes remaining this past Tuesday fit the bill for the 2021-22 season. Both entered the contest at the bottom of the district standings but as the case in a “rivalry” game this wasn’t about records or district standings. That wasn’t what was important. This was about bragging rights among friends and neighbors. This was about the ability to “pick fun” and “talk smack” for years to come.
While the memory of the game is one of the brightest spots of an otherwise disappointing season for the Wolves, for three quarters and most of the fourth, it was going down as the most demoralizing. It was not a pretty or well-played game. In fact, it was down-right ugly in terms of execution and shooting as both teams struggled offensively – especially in the second half.
It was all Quitman in the early going as L.D. Manning scored 8 and Logan Ponder nailed a pair of threes to give the Wolverines a 14-10 first quarter advantage. Neither would score another basket but John Pabaya hit a pair of baskets and both McBride and Riley Duck made a shot to give Quitman a 22-16 halftime advantage of the defensive slugfest. Weston hit 6 of 8 free throws and Ryan Feirn made a pair of baskets to keep Weston within striking distance.
Then the forgettable third quarter came around. Weston scored four points and Quitman five to give the Wolverines a 27-20 advantage. How bad was it? To put it into perspective both teams managed only 3 combined baskets with Weston making one and Quitman two. The fourth period wasn’t much better either with Quitman making one shot and Weston two. Free throws? No such luck there either. Quitman made 4 of 10. Weston was even worse, missing 8 of 13– that is until the final three minutes that helped the Wolves celebrate Senior Night in grand style.
The improbable rally started with Mitchel Mathews driving the length of the floor and making a layup to pull Weston to within 34-29. A blocked Quitman layup attempt by Seth Peterson and steals by Mathews on consecutive Quitman possessions set the stage for Davis Tolar to make a free throw and a basket and Mathews to score again to tie the game at 34 -34. Then with 26.9 seconds to go, Eli McBride got fouled and stepped to the line.
It was just a free throw like one he had time and time again this season. YEAH RIGHT! Who are you kidding? This was the shot that he had been practicing in his backyard since he was old enough to pick up a ball. This was the shot that he had dreamed about all his life. This was the shot that could beat his schools greatest rival if it went in. On the flip side, miss it and well…….McBride calmly toed the line, eyed the basket and…SWISH!!!!
Quitman still had a chance to provide a little magic of their own as McBride did miss the second shot. The Wolverine’s pushed the ball quickly upcourt but a contested shot went awry. A mad scramble for the ball ensued and seconds later the horn sounded. A wild celebration ensued as this night belonged to the Wolves Seniors, head coach Jacob Otwell, the Weston fans and most of all McBride and proved there is nothing like a stirring rally to win a rivalry.
|Weston (12-18, 1-5)||10||6||4||15||35|
|Quitman (15-17, 1-5)||14||8||5||6||34|
QHS scoring: Manning 9, Pabaya 8, Ponder 7, Simonelli 2, Walker 2
|FINAL 2B STANDINGS||DISTRICT||OVERALL|
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