The Battle Ground Academy Wildcats came from behind to defeat Evangelical Christian School in a Division II-A sub-state matchup Saturday.
The Battle Ground Academy Wildcats (22-8) are two wins away from successfully defending their Division II-A crown after they survived a scare at home against Evangelical Christian School in Saturday’s sub-state matchup.
After falling behind by as much as 13 points in the first half, the Wildcats found a way to storm back and capture a 70-57 win.
“This is what our guys have done all year,” said BGA head coach David Peden. “They play for each other, and when the chips get down, they don’t worry about those; they just worry about the next play. They pulled together, instead of falling apart.”
|Crockett Daniel’s go-ahead three-pointer against ECS|
The game’s turning point came with 4:25 remaining in the contest when senior guard Crockett Daniel connected on a three-pointer from the left corner to put the Wildcats up 58-57. It was the first lead they held since midway through the first quarter.
“It was one of the best feelings I’ve had, because we were building momentum that whole quarter,” said Daniel. “As soon as I hit it, I knew we were probably going to win.”
“If anybody had to take a shot on the team, I’d rather have [Daniel] take it over anyone,” said senior guard Ronald Cleveland. “Once he knocked it down, the momentum was with us.”
Daniel’s shot culminated a comeback that started when he hit a three just before the halftime buzzer to cut the Eagles’ lead to 40-30.
In the third quarter, Daniel and sophomore guard Gabe Reasor hit one three each, and senior guard Sam Folks connected twice from beyond the arch to help send BGA into the final frame down 53-50.
The trio combined for all eight of the team’s three-pointers.
“We have multiple guys on our team that have the green light to pull a three at any time,” said Peden. “They’ve been making big shots all year, and they couldn’t have come at a better time tonight.”
The Wildcats had trouble finding a rhythm early in the game, as the ECS defense contested several of their shots.
“The full-court press bothered us and we didn’t push it like we needed to,” Peden said. “We were slowing down and letting them set up into what they wanted to get in, as opposed to pushing that tempo. That was one thing we talked about at halftime — keep pushing it and don’t let them set up.”
Defensively, BGA struggled to contain ECS guards Peyton Watts and Marcus Lytle throughout the first half, as the duo combined for 29 of their team’s 40 points.
Watts beat them from the perimeter with five three-pointers, and Lytle hit four field goals and six free throws.
“We knew they liked corner threes and we gave up a little bit too many early on,” said Peden. “We didn’t really come off of those shooters as much [in the second half]. We were then able to play more of a zone inside and were able to take away those guys, also.”
Lytle managed to score only six points in the second half to close out with a game-high of 20, while Watts failed to make a shot after halftime.
Daniel led BGA in scoring with 17 points on four made three-pointers. Reasor chimed in 11, Terrell Webster had 10, Folks scored nine and Cleveland posted eight.
The victory advances the Wildcats to a BlueCross Basketball DII-A state semifinal matchup at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena on Friday. Its opponent hasn’t been determined.
Sam McGaw is sports editor of Home Page Media Group. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow him on Twitter @SamMcGawSports.