Last season, the Southwestern Warriors basketball team had a large senior class that played majority of their minutes. This year, while the Warriors do have numerous upperclassman, the game experience is not quite there.
However, last night at Southwestern, they played clutch in the late game to take an 80-74 victory in overtime against the Central Kentucky Homeschool Spartans.
After a buzzer beater by G. Skaggs of the Spartans that evened the score at 66-66 and sent the game into overtime, the Warriors got to work.
First, senior Andrew Jones drove in and finished a layup to put Southwestern ahead early.
L. Gilmore matched Jones' layup, with a driving layup of his own, but senior Lukas Maybrier quickly answered back with a mid range pull up that gave his Warriors a 70-68 lead.
After an inside bucket by senior Ethan Meadows of the Warriors, and a free throw by G. Skaggs, Southwestern had back to back successful driving layups by Jones and senior Evan Smith that gave the Warriors a 76-71 lead late in the OT period.
G. Skaggs nailed another clutch three to cut the Spartan deficit to two points, but time was ticking down and Central Kentucky had to foul to try and get the ball back.
Smith was fouled first and put in his first shot, but missed his second. However, Jones came down with the offensive rebound and got an opportunity from the free throw line for himself.
Jones also hit his first and missed his second, but the Warriors once again came up with an offensive rebound and Jones got a second opportunity from the line in which he sunk both free throw shots and sealed an 80-74 victory.
Early in the game, the Spartans established their three point shot from the very beginning. N. Skaggs of Central Kentucky opened up the game with a three pointer, and this set the tone for the Spartans.
After the three by N. Skaggs, on the next Spartan possession, Maybrier got a steal and put in a wide open layup for the Warriors opening bucket.
J. Morris of the Spartans extended their lead to three with a driving layup, but the Warriors answered right back and go their first lead of the game at 7-5 after an inside bucket by Meadows and three pointer by Jones.
Gilmore answered Jones with a three of his own to put the Spartans ahead once again, but Smith gave it right back to Warriors with a four point play with a free throw shot after a successful three.
N. Skaggs evened the score at 11-11 late in the first with a contested layup, and free throw after.
Senior Laiken Nazario took back the lead with a driving layup, but N. Skaggs answered right back with a three point shot.
The Warriors closed the opening period ahead after a three pointer and inside bucket by sophomore Eli Meece which put them ahead 18-14.
The Spartans were absolutely on fire from long range in the second quarter and scored nearly exclusively from beyond the three point line.
They nailed six three point shots in the period to gain some momentum and take a lead over the Warriors heading into halftime. Morris had three triples, N. Skaggs had a pair, and G. Skaggs had a single three to lead the way for the Spartans 36-29 lead at halftime.
For the Warriors, they had a pair of inside buckets by Jones, a mid range shot and driving layup by Maybrier, an inside shot from Smith, and a free throw by Nazario in the second.
The threes slowed for the Spartans after the halftime break, but they continued to stay just ahead of the Warriors. Throughout the third Central Kentucky went 5-7 from the free throw line with free shots from Morris, J. Washington, and L. Shelby, had a inside bucket from G. Skaggs, a mid range pull up and three from N. Skaggs, and a three from Shelby that helped them to a 51-45 lead heading into the fourth period.
In the third the Warriors had a three and driving layup from Smith, three inside buckets from Meadows, a driving layup by Jones, and three from Maybrier.
Southwestern really stepped up in the fourth quarter and began to somewhat neutralize the Central Kentucky offense with physical defensive play.
Early in the period, Maybrier sunk three mid range shots, and with the help of inside baskets from Jones and senior Alex Farler opened the quarter with a twelve point run that put the Warriors ahead 57-51.
G. Skaggs put an end to the Spartans scoring silence with an inside bucket, but Southwestern answered right back with a layup from Nazario that was assisted by Maybrier.
Free throw opportunities by G. Skaggs and N. Skaggs cut the Southwestern lead to three, but Jones pushed it back to five with an inside shot.
Morris nailed a three pointer to cut the Warrior lead to 61-59 late in the quarter, but Southwestern pushed right back with a driving layup by Farler.
Gilmore once again cut the lead to just two with a driving layup for the Spartans, but time was wearing thin and Central Kentucky had to start fouling.
After one successful free throw by Nazario, N. Skaggs cut the lead to just one point with two free throws of his own. Then, Smith was fouled and put in both free shots to give the Warriors a 66-63 lead with just under ten seconds left.
G. Skaggs nailed a contested buzzer beater three to send the game to overtime, but the Warriors held on and opened their season with a victory.
The Warriors really spread the ball around and had a balanced offensive attack with four double figure scorers in Jones, Maybrier, Smith, and Meadows.
Southwestern will play a cross town rival in the Pulaski County Maroons next, and it will be the second game of a double header at Pulaski this Friday night.
SW - 18 11 16 21 14 - 80
CK - 14 22 15 15 8 - 74
SW - Jones 22, Maybrier 17, Smith 16, Meadows 10, Nazario 6, Meece 5, Farler 4.
CK - N. Skaggs 30, Morris 15, G. Skaggs 15, Gilmore 7, Shelby 4, Washington 3.