Kasey Gilpin only had two points Saturday afternoon, but there were none bigger than those scored by the Skyline freshman as the Thunderbirds downed the Stafford Trojans in the 7th place game of the 54 Classic in Cunningham.
The contest tied at 49, Gilpin was fouled in a scramble for a loose ball with 1 tick remaining on the clock. Gilpin’s charity tosses hit nothing but net, and Skyline had collected its first win of the season, 51-49 over Stafford.
There was no one T-Birds head coach Justin Miltner would have rather seen at the line. “I was tickled when it was Kasey on the line to win it for us,” Miltner said. “He’s a good free throw shooter. I knew he was going to put the ball where it had a good chance of going in the bucket.”
The outlook wasn’t particularly promising at the outset for the T-Birds, as they found themselves behind 17-10 after the first period to the Trojans—a team Skyline had fallen to previously in the season’s second game.
The second quarter saw Skyline turn it up a notch, their pressure defense and fast-break offense beginning to click. Forcing the Trojans into turnovers and collecting steals, the Thunderbirds were able to get some easy baskets and came roaring back in the second stanza. A Cole Patterson trey at the buzzer gave Skyline a 24-21 lead heading into intermission.
In Q3, the sides traded baskets, not altering the Thunderbird 3 point advantage. Skyline was still having success on the front end of their press, but what allowed the Staffords to hang with Skyline was that, just as often, there would be breakdowns on the back side of the press and Stafford would score an easy bucket.
“It was just immaturity,” Miltner said of the defensive lapses. “We just over-rotated at times, the kind of mistake young, inexperienced players make.”
The 4th quarter was a nail-biter. The last four minutes were played with the score either tied or a mere basket advantage one way or the other. It came down to the final seconds, Skyline in possession with the score tied. A T-Bird shot was off the mark, but Blake Lee alertly saved the ball from going out of bounds. In the ensuing chase, a Trojan shoved Gilpin, and the rest was history.
“It was a good win for us,” allowed Coach Miltner. “We made it harder on ourselves than we needed to, but it was definitely something we can build on.”
Skyline is now 1-11 on the season. They are off until January 29 when they will face Stafford for the third time this season, the match to take place on the Trojans’ home floor.
Page 2 of 2 - In other 54 Classic action, Wichita North Sophs downed Norwich 50-36 for 5th place; South Barber knocked off host Cunningham 48-44 for 3rd place; and Kinsley claimed the tourney title with a 42-39 victory over Attica.
Skyline 10 14 15 12 51
Stafford 17 4 15 13 49
Gilpin 0-02/2-2; Patterson 6-1-3/6-18; Abbott 4-0-2/4-10; Hogan 1-0-0-2; Weber 3-0-3/5-9; Lee 1-0-1/2-3; McComb 3-0-2/4-8