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Late rally by Southwestern falls short to Milan at home
, Courier Sportswriter
Saturday, December 22, 2012 4:00 AM
Southwestern’s Gunnar Henry (above, on floor) and Milan’s Willie Mays (22) watch Henry’s desperation 3-pointer at the final horn and Mays, along with the Rebels’ Tristan Embs, helps Henry off the floor (below) after the shot fell short allowing Milan to escape with a 65-62 win Friday at Delbert O. King Gymnasium in Hanover. (Photos by David Campbell)
Southwestern once again mounted a fourth quarter comeback from a double-digit deficit but this one didn't end as well for the Rebels as they fell 65-62 to Milan Friday at home.
The Rebels rallied from 15 points down to stun Shawe last month and nearly repeated the feat against Milan. Southwestern trailed by 12 entering the final quarter and eventually took the lead with 2:45 to play.
But Milan had its own comeback in store and out-scored Southwestern 6-2 down the stretch. The Rebels' Darius Whitson-Spegal missed a pair of free throws with less than two seconds left that could have forced overtime.
"They played hard. If we can figure out how to bottle that energy and enthusiasm and play four quarters like that we can be a pretty good ball team," Southwestern coach Andy Firth said. "I don't know how to do it at this point in time. We're on the edge of going from average to good, these kids just need to cross over into that."
Southwestern (2-5, 1-2 Ohio River Valley) has made a habit of late of falling behind big to opponents early in the game. In each of the last three games it has cost the Rebels the win.
The lull for Southwestern on Friday came in the second quarter. After overcoming a slow start the Rebels took a 21-18 lead with 6:18 left in the second on a Whitson-Spegal jumper.
But the rest of the half belonged to Milan. The Indians (3-3, 1-0 ORVC) took advantage of overly-aggressive Southwestern defenders for easy layups while the Rebels went ice-cold from the floor.
The result was a 19-3 run for Milan to close the half and give the Indians a 37-24 lead. While Southwestern recovered from the big run to eventually take the lead, had the Rebels played even during that stretch they may have won going away.
"It's a problem we've had here lately and I really don't have the answer for it," Firth said.
Southwestern trimmed only two points off the halftime lead in the third quarter and still trailed by 10 (59-49) with 5:01 left in the game when they caught fire.
Whitson-Spegal got the comeback started by drilling a 3-pointer from the right side and Zach Westerfield followed with a trey of his own moments later to pull the Rebels within four.
A defensive rebound set up a fast break for Southwestern that Whitson-Spegal ended with a layup in the lane. Another missed shot by Milan led to yet another Whitson-Spegal 3-pointer, this time to cap an 11-0 run and put the Rebels on top 60-59 with just under three minutes to play.
"The difference in this game was that we didn't give up," Firth said. "We fell behind to Jac-Cen-Del and gave up. We fell behind to New Washington and gave up. We didn't do that tonight."
Milan's Cooper Wade ended the run with a three-point play on the other end to put the Indians back on top by two at 62-60 with 1:41 left.
Southwestern missed a shot on its end but Wade was called for a charge on the other end to give the Rebels another chance. Tristan Embs made the most of the reprieve with a short jumper to tie the game at 62-62 with 54 seconds to play.
Logan Karsteter hit a runner in the lane to give the lead back to Milan with 43 seconds left and after the teams exchanged turnovers, Gunnar Henry drove into the lane for the potential tying basket with less than 20 seconds left.
Henry was hammered on the play but no call was issued. Firth, irate at the lack of a foul, stormed onto the floor yelling at the officials but was not issued a technical foul.
The lack of a technical played in Southwestern's favor when Wade took a quick shot on the other end and missed badly. On the other end, Whitson-Spegal drove to the basket and this time a foul was called sending him to the line with 1.3 seconds left.
Whitson-Spegal missed the first free throw and, after a Rebel timeout, attempted to miss the second one on purpose but failed to hit the rim. Southwestern fouled the inbounds quickly but Milan's Willie Mays hit one free throw for the final margin.
Despite missing the potential tying free throws Whitson-Spegal had a monster fourth quarter to lead Southwestern back. The 6-foot-1 senior scored eight of his team-high 21 points in the fourth, all in a two-minute span to rally the Rebels.
"I thought both Darius and Gunnar played very well in the fourth and made some big plays for us," Firth said. "And Tristan Embs came in and really gave some quality minutes and hit some big shots. We just need to find a way to carry that kind of play over for 32 minutes instead of just one quarter."
Milan attempted nearly nine fewer shots than Southwestern but hit them at nearly a 20-percent higher clip. The Indians were 29-for-49 (59.1 percent) from the floor overall and 3-for-9 from 3-point range. The Rebels were 24-for-58 (41.3 percent) and 6-for-15 (40 percent) from behind the arc.
Milan also held a 32-27 edge in rebounding although Southwestern hit more free throws (8) than the Indians attempted (6).
Henry finished with a strong overall game of 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Westerfield added eight points for Southwestern.
Both Wade and Karsteter scored over 20 points for Milan. Wade hit three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 22 points while Karsteter had 20 points.
Southwestern takes the week off for Christmas break and will return to action next week in the Union County tournament. Firth said that the trip will give his team a chance to clear their heads.
"We're going to see teams we don't normally see and play in an area of the state we don't play in," Firth said. "And we'll be staying overnight. Hopefully this will be a good trip for us. Who knows, maybe this will be the trip to kickstarts the season for us."
MILAN 65, SOUTHWESTERN 62
MILAN 16 21 16 12 - 65
SOUTHWESTERN 15 9 17 21 - 62
MILAN (3-3, 1-0 ORVC) - (g)Wade 22, (f)Karsteter 20, (g)Detraz 8, (f)Mays 5, (g)Bixler 4, Butte 4, Baker 2, Alloway 0, Davis 0.
SOUTHWESTERN (2-5, 1-2 ORVC) - (g)Whitson-Spegal 21, (f)Henry 16, Westerfield 8, (c)Wyne 6, Embs 5, Perry 4, (f)Withered 2, Howell 0, Brooks 0.
3-Point Goals - Milan 3 (Wade 3), Southwestern 5 (Whitson-Spegal 3, Embs 1, Westerfield 1). Rebounds - Milan 32 (Wade 8), Southwestern 27 (Henry 8). Assists - Milan 8 (Detraz 4), Southwestern 7 (Henry 4). Turnovers - Milan 18, Southwestern 13. Total Fouls - Milan 13, Southwestern 10. Free Throws - Milan 4-6, Southwestern 8-12. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Milan faces Trinity Lutheran in the Springs Valley Tournament Friday. Southwestern plays Northeastern in the Union Co. Tournament. Thursday.
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