After watching his team fall short in back-to-back losses in OCC-Cardinal Division play, Worthington Kilbourne High School boys basketball coach Tom Souder said the Wolves must find a way to come through in the clutch.
Kilbourne missed opportunities to pull out victories in the waning moments of a 62-58 double-overtime loss to Westerville South on Dec. 7 and a 54-53 loss at home against Westerville Central on Dec. 14.
Against Central, Kilbourne gave up a 3-point play with 1.4 seconds left.
"We had four or five opportunities to win at Westerville South and we could have won this game (Central) if we would have made one more basket or one more defensive stop, but we didn't get the job done," Souder said. "We have a chance to be good, but we have to realize that every drill we do in practice and every pass we make matters, and we can't just go through the motions.
"We have to decide if we want to be a team that looks back on this season and says 'if we could change seven plays, we would've had a good season,' or if we're going to be a team that thrives on competition every day. When it's close, we've played not to lose. We have to want the ball and go take it when we're in these situations, because that's what competition is all about."
Souder said the Wolves must do a better job of maintaining their poise late in close games.
Kilbourne had only eight turnovers over the first three quarters against Central while building a 42-34 lead. However, the Wolves turned the ball over five times in the fourth quarter and were outscored 20-11.
Michael Chambers went to the foul line and missed the front end of a one-and-one with 41 seconds left. The Wolves then turned the ball over with 19.5 seconds remaining before Tyler Stern-Tucker missed the second of two free throws with 7.6 seconds left and Kilbourne clinging to a 53-51 lead.
Central's Charles Carmon rebounded the missed free throw, dribbled the length of the court and was fouled while making a layup with 1.4 seconds remaining. He made the ensuing free throw, giving the Warhawks the win.
"We've got to get tougher both physically and mentally," Souder said. "We need to box out better and understand time and scoring situations. We had a couple of unforced turnovers and missed scoring opportunities late in the game, and that made a huge difference."
Through four games, Ryan Aldolph was averaging a team-high 11.8 points, followed by Stern-Tucker (10.0), Seth Hill (9.8) and Chambers (9.0).
"We need to screen better and box out more, but we've been good at attacking the basket and shooting the ball," Chambers said. "Seth Hill's a great leader who steps up and takes charge. Tyler's our best player and he can do everything well."
According to Souder, Hill had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 5-to-1 through four games.
"Seth's playing hard," Souder said. "He's handled the ball well and made good decisions. He's also doing a good job of defending our opponents' quickest player every night."
The Wolves are looking forward to competing in the Gateway Holiday Classic being held Dec. 27-29 at Mount Sterling (Ky.) Montgomery County.
They open against Covington (Ky.) Holy Cross on Dec. 27 and will play Grayson (Ky.) East Carter or Montgomery County in the next round Dec. 28. Also taking part in the event are Orlando (Fla.) Edgewater, Flemingsburg (Ky.) Fleming County, Frankfort (Ky.) Franklin County and Lexington (Ky.) Lafayette.
"We're a little nervous about going to play some of the best teams from other states," Chambers said. "This should be a great experience for us, because we should only get closer. And if we can beat some of those teams, it should get our confidence up."