Unioto & Westfall play instant classic to start SVC season
By Shayne Combs, SVCsportszone.com
Opening night or not â€“ this could be the game of the year. If at the end of the year it is not the game of the year, I can only hope I get to attend the game that betters this one. If you werenâ€™t at Unioto Tuesday night, I will try to describe it the best I can.
The first three quarters were innocent enough. The game was playing out about the way I expected. Uniotoâ€™s pressure was making life rough for Westfallâ€™s perimeter to dribble, pass, and catch with any success at all. When Westfall was able to get it inside, more times than not, Unioto did not have an answer for Westfallâ€™s size.
Unioto appeared to be ready to put the game away in the second half. The Shermans led 40-30 after the third quarter, and Westfall continued to be in some serious foul trouble. Westfall received great minutes from their bench to start the final quarter, and point guard Neal Hegarty started to have success getting into the paint against the Unioto defense. Westfall had worked their way back to 47-44 and had a look at a three that would have tied it. The three missed with the rebound coming long. Uniotoâ€™s Corbin Hill took the long rebound and threw a beautiful long bounce pass to Christian Dunkle who converted an old- fashion three-point play. With Unioto up six with two minutes remaining, it looked like Unioto would now put the game to bed; however, Westfall once again came fighting back.
In the fourth quarter, Westfallâ€™s Derek Robertson â€“ who probably didnâ€™t play more than five or six minutes in the first three quarters due to foul trouble â€“ was finally able to impact the game on the offensive end. The junior scored on back-to-back elbow jumpers to cut the Unioto lead to three at 55- 52. After Unioto was unable to ice the game at the line, Hegarty had one last chance as he used a great on-ball screen from Alek Stonerock and let loose a high arching three-pointer from the right wing that found the bottom of the net to tie the game at 55-55 to send the atmosphere into a frenzy and the game to overtime.
Now it was Westfallâ€™s turn to give away chances. The Mustangs scored the first four points of the first overtime and the first six points of the second overtime, and both times, the Mustangs were unable to finish the deal at the foul line. By the way, Westfall was 10-30 from the charity stripe Tuesday night. Unioto fought back in the first overtime on the strength of Brick Davis. Davis lived in the paint during the overtime periods. Davis had success getting to the line early in the first OT, and then down 61-58, Davis found Hill for a three-pointer from the left wing to tie things up at 61-61. In the second overtime, Unioto again took advantage of Westfallâ€™s poor FT shooting, and again it was Davis converting at the line to tie it at 70-70.
This was the first time in nearly an hour where it was becoming obvious that the game was Uniotoâ€™s to lose. Westfall had four of their top players gone from the game due to fouls, and Coach Mink was forced to go with combinations that he probably never dreamed he would have on the floor at a time like this. To the credit of the Westfall kids, they did hang around again. Down just 73-72, Unioto scored the gameâ€™s final six points to win it 79-72. The Unioto guards were really able to spread Westfall out, and eventually put it away at the line.
This was a game that was fun to watch, fun to play, probably fun and quite stressful to coach. It was a game that was incredibly tough to lose, and a game you would feel fortunate to win. I think this win could go a long way in helping Uniotoâ€™s confidence this season, and I believe Westfall will bounce back and draw many positives from this as well. CLICK HERE TO SEE PICTURES FROM KEN FARRAR