Flora tops Bearcats in OT
Wolves rally late, edge Christopher for second win

- The Flora Wolves came into Thursday night's make up game with Christopher desperately needing a victory.

Coach Phil Leib's club have suffered through some tough times in 2016-17, going 1-7 in its first eight games.

But an hour and a half trip south to 1A Christopher was just what this club needed.

It wasn't an easy task and it took four extra minutes to get the job done, but the Wolves headed home Thursday night with a 46-45 overtime win over the Bearcats.

The Wolves rallied in the fourth quarter but then squandered that advantage as the home team forced the overtime with a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer.

Speaking of squandering, the Bearcats were generous with a lead that they had worked so hard to get.

Coach Eric Stallman saw his team play perhaps the best quarter of the season in the third, outscoring Flora 18-5 to erase a halftime deficit to take a 31-24 lead heading into the final stanza.

The see-saw battle swung back into the favor of the Wolves as they took advantage of Christopher's poor play to begin the final frame.

The first six possessions for the hosts resulted in four missed shots and two turnovers.

This allowed Flora to go on a 10-0 run.

Five-foot-ten senior guard Trevin Smith scored 17-points for the Wolves, with 12 of the points coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Senior backcourt teammate Jeffrey Gaither hit three 3-pointers on his way to 10-points in the low scoring contest.

Gaither found teammate Drew Woodrow on a lob pass to begin the fourth quarter rally and then he hit one of his 20-footers.

Smith hit a pair of free throws and then, on the next trip down the floor, converted a conventional three-point play on a rebound stick back to give Flora a 34-31 lead just 2:21 into the fourth.

As if on cue, Christopher spun the deficit back around in the next few minutes.

Six-foot-five junior forward Jared Curry and 5-foot-9 senior Kaeleb Pedigo each scored 16-points in the game, with Curry scoring 11 of his in the second half.

Curry scored in the paint on a possession and then Gabe Schimpf, who netted six-points, added a basket on a pass from freshman Bryce Pratt for a 35-34 lead.

In what appeared to be a game-deciding move, Flora again got back an advantage with baskets by Woodrow and Smith.

Smith's was again from long-range which had the Wolves in position to end the contest.

In the final moments of regulation, with his team in the lead 41-39, junior Trenton Brown walked up to the foul line with a one-and-one chance.

After making the first one, Brown missed the second with Pratt snagging the rebound.

With the final seconds ticking away, Pratt got the ball to Curry who found himself with an open look from the left wing beyond the 3-point line.

His shot, launched from at least 23-feet, banked home at the buzzer for force overtime at 42-all.

With the game tied at 45-each in the final minute, Flora's Smith toed the foul line with :02.4 to go.

He made the first of two-shots to give the Wolves the lead.

His next shot missed and junior forward Bradley Young grabbed the rebound and raced up the floor.

Bradley managed to pull up from the left wing to attempt a game-winning shot.

But when he got set for the attempt, he bobbled the ball for a split second and his shot didn't leave his hands until after the buzzer.

Unfortunately the shot was nothing but net, but too late as Flora picked up the long awaited victory that halted a seven-game losing streak.

Both teams had multiple chances to win the contest at different stages of the game.

Christopher lead 9-4 early in the first quarter as they forced four Flora miscues.

However the Wolves closed the period with an 8-2 run with both Smith and Gaither hitting 3-point shots for a 12-11 lead.

Flora then carried the momentum over into the second, but they managed just seven-points in the second on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.

Christopher struggled also, going 1-of-7 from the floor as the two teams headed to the intermission with Flora up 19-13.

The hosts then proceeded to get on a roll, a 16-2 scoring sprint.

Running some set plays to get open looks, Pedigo scored twice and Schimpf added a bucket.

All three of the scores were at the top of the circle.

When Curry scored on the inside with 4:08 left in the third, Christopher took back the lead at 24-23.

Pedigo canned yet another 3-pointer, this time from the left wing, Curry added another score in the lane and a pair of free throws by Young completed the scoring burst for a 31-23 lead.

“It is about helping your brother out, getting through screens. We told them that 15 (Pedigo) can flat out shoot but we leave him open a few times,” said Coach Leib. “All of that stuff goes hand-in-hand. WE just had to adjust because they ran their offense through 30 (Curry). Like I said, it wasn't pretty but we got it done.”

Unfortunately for Coach Stallman, the good things that happened during that fourth quarter evaporated quickly in the final quarter as the Bearcats saw their mark slip to 3-4 on the season.

A quick look at the numbers will show a glaring stat that spelled doom for the hosts.

The Bearcats didn't convert their free throw opportunities, that in all likelihood would have given them a win on Thursday night.

“We came out and outscored them by 13 or 14 in the third quarter. Then we came out in the fourth quarter and laid an egg,” said Coach Stallman. “We turned the ball over and missed shots. That is kind of what we have done all year. Our basketball IQ is not there. It's kind of our 'M-O' and we have had film sessions and we keep talking about it. Hopefully those things (shot selection) get better as we go on.”

Christopher finished just 4-of-11 from the foul line compared to 13-of-17 from the Wolves.

Flora ended up 14-of-44 overall (31.8 percent) and just 5-of-21 from the arc.

The Bearcats closed the contest much better from the field at 19-of-39 (48.7 percent) but only 3-of-12 from 3-point land.

The two teams were even on the boards with 24-rebounds each.

Holiday tournament play begins Monday for both teams.

The Bearcats are the number two-seed at the Sesser-Valier Holiday Tournament and will face a pretty good New Athens squad at 5 pm.

“We have a tough schedule, probably the toughest we have had in a long, long time at this school and hopefully it helps us,” said Coach Stallman. “I hope that the losses doesn't hurt the kids' enthusiasm and confidence. We competed tonight but we sure didn't close it out.”

Flora is the top-seed in Pool B, number two-seed overall, at the Vandalia Holiday Tournament and will face Maryville (IL.) Father McGivney at 3 pm Monday.

“I don't care how ugly it was, the boy's fought hard and we overcame some adversity. We absolutely 'stunk it up' in the third quarter. Number 30 (Curry) was a load for us. We just didn't have an answer for him inside,” said Coach Leib. “We started getting away from team-ball and started playing selfish. We started pressing and forcing but once we got back to who we are. I got on them at the end of the third. I challenged them. It doesn't matter what we draw up on the board, it is what is in your heart. And they responded.”

Flora (46) – Smith 2 2 7-9 17, Woodrow 3 0 0-0 6, Winka 0 0 0-0 0, Brown 3 0 3-3 9, Leib 0 0 0-0 0, Gaither 1 3 0-1 10, White 0 0 0-0 0, Moses 0 0 2-2 2, Scott 0 0 1-2 1.
2FG-9, 3FG-5, FT-13-17, PF-16.

Christopher (61)
– Snell 0 0 0-0 0, Pedigo 4 2 0-0 16, Schimpf 3 0 0-2 6, Young 2 0 3-6 5, Pratt 1 0 0-1 2, Curry 6 1 1-2 16.
2FG-16, 3FG-3, PF-4-11, PF-18.

Fouled Out
– Curry - Christopher.
Technical Fouls
– None.