Silver Knights Slay Dragons
Tyler Consolidated jumped out to an early 8-3 lead over Cameron on Wednesday, March 7, in a Region 1, Co-Final game and a trip to Charleston on the line. The Dragons put together a 13-3 run of their own and went up 16-11 after the first quarter. The Silver Knights, using pressure defense that caused several Dragon turnovers, got back in the game with a 10-9 second quarter, heading into the break down four (25-21) and momentum on their side.
The Knights, who have been on an 11-year drought from the state event, used a big second half to gain the lead and get a 61-49 win, sending them to Charleston where they will meet Wheeling Central in a 5:30 p.m. matchup on Thursday, March 15.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the season to win our section and get to Charleston. The last time we did that was in 2007, my last year of coaching here. I took this job at the beginning of the year, thinking we could make another run, and based on what I saw, I knew we could do some good things. Obviously it worked out that way,” said Coach Rick Leach.
“We have talent and good athletes, and it’s just a matter of getting structure with them and doing what we have to do. The biggest part of Wednesday’s game was our foul shooting in the fourth quarter. We struggled all year at the line. I think we shot like 64 percent…”
The third period was a big turning point in the contest as the Knights defense held Cameron to only two field goals and a foul shot for five points while hitting 13 of their own including two quick 3’s to start the second half by Griffin Phillips.
Phillips ended with five three pointers on the night and was the games leading scorer with 23. Senior guard Dylan Roberts finished with 17 points, including a 15-16 showing from the free throw line and 14 straight coming in the fourth quarter. As a team, the Knights connected on 21-23 free throws in the last frame and went 24-29 overall. Four of which came on two technicals.
“Roberts wanted the ball down the stretch,” said Coach Leach. That was the key; he said, ‘Coach I want to shoot them.’ I said, ‘Go get the ball.’ He responded perfectly.”
“I wanted to get to the line, I had a lot of confidence and felt I could make them,” Roberts said. “We never gave up, even when we were down in the first half; we were determined to keep the pressure on and wait on our opportunities.”
Phillips hit a long three near the end of the first half to draw the Knights to within four, and his two straight at the beginning of the second half got the flow going; the Knights got the lead for good when Roberts pulled up for a short jumper mid-way through the period.
“This was a really important game, and we wanted to win. I felt good about our chances, and aftera few shots fell for me, they tightened up the defense. I got the ball to my teammates who hit some big baskets. We ran our offense pretty well in the first half, but our quickness and overall defensive pressure really made a difference. It was a good team win for us,” said Phillips.
Mark Rucker was also in double figures for the Silver Knights with 10 points, including 8-10 from the line. Steven Ross finished with six; Tyler West added three, and Kyle Mason got two. Ross also added seven rebounds, and West grabbed six. Phillips and Nate Lancaster each had three steals. Phillips added a blocked shot,
The Silver Knights now stand at 17-8 on the season and will face number one Wheeling Central 22-2 at 5:30 tomorrow night in a quarter final game. Cameron finished its season with a 19-7 record, second best in school history.