KEWANEE — Cody Phillips made two three-pointers on Tuesday night, and both couldn’t have came at a more critical time.
Phillips hit two threes for Wethersfield in a span of a minute and 23 seconds to highlight a 13-2 run in the fourth quarter against Bureau Valley. The run turned a two-point deficit into a nine-point advantage, the biggest lead of the night for the Flying Geese, as they defeated the Storm 60-56 in the second night of action at the Wally Keller Invitational.
In a game that was back and forth throughout, one team was going to have to make a run to put the other away. Wethersfield did that in the fourth quarter.
“When it really mattered, (Wethersfield) broke through that mental barrier of being tired, and we’ve got to find a way to get it done,” said BV coach Jason Marquis. “We talked about that after the game. There are some Xs and Os we could have done differently, but credit Wethersfield, they executed well. They are a smart team and they just made plays when they really had to, and we didn’t quite have the spark that our team needed to win.”
A score in the lane from Jordan Monier and perfectly executed give-and-go from Logan Hoffert to Parker Neuhalfen gave the Storm a 41-39 lead with 6:25 remaining in the game. However, Matt Jenkins quickly answered for the Geese as the lefty drained a three just nine seconds later. His three would start the decisive fourth quarter run.
The Storm were held without a field goal and only scored two free throws from Brian Lange during the run, as Phillips capped it with a three from the left wing on an out of bounds play with 3:12 left in the contest. That shot, which made it 52-43, was the second time a Wethersfield player was left wide open against the Storm’s zone defense on an out of bounds set.”
“We talk a lot about mental toughness, and that’s a thing when you are tired you make some mental mistakes,” said Marquis of the miscues. “If you want to beat a good team like Wethersfield, at their place, you can’t have them. If you do have them, those are the things that end up burying you.”
BV tried to battle back and got within five points with under a minute left when Neuhalfen converted a three-point play. Neuhalfen scored 10 of his game-high 17 points in the final minute of the game, including a half-courter at the buzzer, as he tried to spark a late rally. But, Wethersfield hit enough free throws (6-10) in the final minute to secure the win.
In the first half, the Storm never led as they fell behind 13-10 after the first quarter and 23-20 at the halftime break. Two free throws from Lange gave the Storm their first lead of the night at 30-29. Tommy Johnston’s score in the paint with 3:42 left in the third made it 34-33, but it was BV’s last field goal of the period as Wethersfield tied it up heading into the fourth quarter.
Johnston, along with Frank Gebeck, reached double-figure scoring in the game with 10 points each.
• The Storm used some sophomore strength to power past Annawan 68-38 with Neuhalfen and Johnston scoring 18 points each. Michael Smith led the Braves with 12 points. ... The Storm played Midland on Wednesday, played after the BCR’s afternoon deadline and will return to action at 7 p.m. Friday.