LUTZ-In a thrilling, back and forth bout, the Steinbrenner Warriors (3-19) fell to the Gaither Cowboys (4-17) 85-77 in overtime failing to qualify for the district semifinals.
“I believe it was one of the best games we have played all year,” said head coach Reggie Anderson. “Gaither has gotten a lot better and had more play from people besides their best player. In the end we were both pretty even but came up short in the end.”
The Warriors started off the night with a strong performance in the paint led by junior power forward Justin Keller who tallied 19 points and four rebounds. 14 of Keller’s 19 points came in the first half. Other strong performances in the game came from sophomore Craig Hall who recorded a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. Although the Warriors dominated the paint with their size, Gaither had huge success from behind the arc making their first eight, three pointers. The Warriors could not find an answer to Gaither’s surprising three point success which led to the Warriors trailing Gaither 42-39 at the half.
The second half was a different story for both teams. The Warriors began to find the counterpart to Gaither’s outside shooting by making some outside shots of their own with a combined eight three pointers form guards Quinn Coleman, Christian Schach, and Cameron Molloy. This led to a major run by the Warriors in the third quarter which led to a tied game heading into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter was a major exchange in shots to where no team had a lead for longer than 30 seconds until the final 30 seconds where Molloy had a major steal which led to a drive giving the Warriors a three point lead in the final seconds. But clutch free throw shooting by the Cowboys sent the game to overtime tied at 67-67.
In the overtime period, foul trouble was the Achilles heal for the Warriors as Coleman, Hall, and Keller all fouled out late in the game. This led to a loss of size in the paint which allowed the Cowboys to capitalize on to finish out the game on a 14-6 run. The Cowboys would prevail despite a late push from Steinbrenner by a score of 85-77.
“I told all of our players that it is the last eight minutes of the season potentially and they played as hard as they could but we now know about foul trouble and the effectiveness of it in overtime for the next season,” said Anderson.
The Warriors finish off the season at 3-19 failing to make a run at the district title again. The bright side is over half of the team are underclassmen that will be back to make Steinbrenner a better team for the next season.
Dillon Schmidt/Staff Writer