By MIKE ZUMMO
WELLS – A five-point first half disappeared for the Wells boys basketball team Thursday night as the Indians saw their offense go cold in the second half as they stumbled to a 56-45 loss to Crown Point.
However, the Indians weren’t the only ones stumbling.
The Panthers also struggled in the third quarter before exploding to a 22-point fourth quarter to snap victory away from the Indians.
“It was a rough game,” Crown Point coach John Swenton said. “It’s one of those times that I think we were pretty sloppy for the majority of the game and I think we put it together in the fourth quarter, which helped us.”
Wells was sloppy as well, even after taking a five-point lead after the first two quarters of play.
“We played very consistent in the first half, but I thought we lost control of our offense,” Wells coach J.C. Parslow said. “Our guards didn’t work so hard and we didn’t play much better. We were just very inconsistent. We were very rushed.”
The Indians and Panthers combined for 55 points in the first half – with Wells leading 30-25 – but offense evaporated from the game in the third quarter.
Crown Point’s Gabe Macey hit a jump shot to close the Indians’ lead to three points 40 seconds into the third quarter, and it was more than a minute before Jake Earley knocked down a free throw with 6:01 left in the quarter to restore a four-point Wells lead. Then 57 seconds after that, Matt Michienzi hit a basket to give the Indians a 33-27 lead, their largest of the first half.
It was quite different from the first half where the two teams combined for 16 personal fouls.
“We talked about [at halftime] how we didn’t know how to play defense because this wasn’t the most consistently refereed game that I’ve ever seen in my life,” Swenton said. “We stuck with zone, but we knew that if we stayed in man, we’d be a little too aggressive, and I think it worked for us.”
The Panthers outscored the Indians 9-5 in the third quarter and Wells entered the final stanza clinging to a 35-34 lead.
It disappeared quickly as Mike Dushane hit a basket 19 seconds in to give Crown Point a 36-35 lead. Caleb Hayes immediately gave the lead back to the Indians with a jumper, ending scoring in the game for most of the next two minutes.
“I think they got rattled,” Parslow said. “I don’t think the defensive – a credit to Crown Point, they played good defense – but it wasn’t any different than what it was in the first half. Guys got a little rattled and couldn’t finish. There were too many turnovers and not enough finish.”
Jon Spaulding gave Crown Point the lead for good with 5:13 to go with a layup and it got the Panthers’ offense rolling as Macey, who finished with a game-high 21 points, added a basket to extend Crown Point’s lead to 40-37.
“Any time you start making shots, everything benefits,” Swenton said. “Your defense becomes more aggressive, your kids play with a lot more confidence and things start to snowball from there.”
The Indians trailed by three points with 36 seconds left in the game, but the Panthers knocked down 6 of 10 free throws down the stretch to widen the lead.
Earley led Wells with 15 points and Ben Brennan added 12, all in the first half.
“Hopefully, they learn to play more consistent and trust their guard play,” Parslow said. “We’re not moving the ball around enough. We’re not patient enough with it. We seemed to rush it a little bit. Hopefully, we can take that from it and we can carry on the rest of the season.”
Crown Point 56, Wells 45
Crown Point15 10 9 22 56
Wells17 13 5 10 45
Spring 3-0-6, Spaulding 4-1-9, Macey 8-4-21, Groshans 1-3-5, Dushane 3-4-10, Foote 1-1-3, Gould 1-0-2. Totals: 21-13-56.
Earley 5-5-15. Hayes 3-0-6, Chicoski 3-0-6, Brennan 6-0-12, Weaver 2-0-4, Michienzi 1-0-2. Totals: 20-5-45.
3-point goals: Crown Point 1 (Macey).