GLEN ROSE – There is not a lot that can be accomplished in 15.18 seconds – except make a couple free throws, force a turnover, potentially clinch the No. 3 seed in 11-3A and guarantee yourself a playoff spot. And that is exactly what transpired in the Runnin’ Tigers’ 50-49 playoff clinching win on Friday in Glen Rose.
It is absolute truth that Keene either led – or was tied – with Glen Rose for well over 31-of-the-game’s 32 minutes. The record should also reflect that the Chargers rushed out to a 7-0 lead to start the 11-3A contest, that Glen Rose did not score its first points until the 4:18-mark of the first quarter and that Keene built its lead to a game-high 13 points with 7:18 to play in the second quarter.
The 21-8 lead early in the second quarter was built from behind the arc.
In fact, it was a fifth three – and third of the game by Fili Sandoval – that was most responsible for the aforementioned lead and continued the Chargers torrid start.
The eyeball test said the Runnin’ Tigers came out tense during the first quarter – and for most of the second. The stat book showed that Keene could not miss from three-point land.
But with the season teetering on the edge of disaster and heartbreak, Glen Rose finally put its close-game experience to good use.
“Keene is a great team, and when their shooters are hitting shots, they are just hard to beat,” Glen Rose Head Coach Owen Clifton said. “Defensively, we were trying to run at their shooters and they were just lighting it up. I told the kids to just weather the storm and that Keene was not going to shoot like that the whole game. We just needed to make our own little runs and keep it close.”
The Runnin’ Tigers did just that.
A 7-0 Glen Rose run – which was highlighted by Bailey Holder’s block of Andrew Gonzales that led to a 3-on-1 opportunity and Brazos Overton layup – pulled the Runnin’ Tigers within five over the middle third of the second quarter.
With the pace, momentum and hot hand firmly in Glen Rose’s favor, the scoring run ran to 15-3 when Garza got a layup to fall off of a Crawford bounce pass in the lane. The assist – which was one of Crawford’s team-high five – helped to tie the game at 26 with under 30 seconds to play in the opening half.
Keene’s Carl Letal hit a jumper from the left elbow as the first-half clock expired. The two points sent Keene, albeit reeling, into the third quarter with a 28-26 lead.
“When we got to within two at the half, I felt really confident about where we sat and I told the kids that,” Clifton said. “Keene came out and made a nice run, but these kids, they just always battle and find a way to get it done.”
A sixth – and Sandoval’s fourth – Keene three started the third quarter.
The Chargers’ junior shooting guard then converted an and-one opportunity with 5:34 on the third quarter clock and built the Keene lead to six.
Another three points – this time a three-point play by way of a Reggie Langidrik and-one – forced Clifton’s first timeout of the second half. The unplanned breather came with 4:12 on the third quarter clock and Glen Rose down 37-28.
“I had to keep telling the kids to just keep weathering the storm,” said Clifton of what he recalled saying to his Runnin’ Tigers while Keene continued to rain threes. “I told them to just be patient, keep making layups and doing the little things right and we would be alright. […] Sometimes shooting can be contagious, but sometimes missing can be just as contagious. [Keene] started missing those shots late in the third quarter, and the thing that helped them get ahead also kind of hurt them, too.”
Five-straight Crawford points fueled a second 7-0 Glen Rose scoring run, but was followed by Sandoval’s fifth three pointer and a second Clifton timeout with the Chargers leading 40-35 and 1:42 on the third quarter clock.
Four of Garza’s team-high 15 points came on a single possession a little over a minute after the timeout and after a Keene basket.
Garza used a pump fake to get Hili Kattil off balance, which baited the senior guard into committing a shooting foul while Garza was already in the process of splashing home one-of-his team-high three baskets from beyond the arc.
Glen Rose’s floor general completed the four-point play to close the gap to three.
Goebel later cleaned up a Keene block with a basket in the lane which sent the Runnin’ Tigers into fourth quarter trailing 44-41.
“It was one of those things where you look into their eyes in the huddle and they are looking back like, ‘We are OK, we have been here before,’” said Clifton of his team’s demeanor down the stretch. “I have said it before and I will say it again, we battle all the way to the buzzer. We probably aren’t going to blow anybody out, but, whether we are playing the best team in the state or the worst, we know that we are going to be in every single game. We know that.”
It was another Garza three that gave the senior his team-high 15th point and tied the game at 44 with 5:13 to play in the fourth quarter.
Crawford’s attempt at an intentional foul of a wide-open Sergio Limon backfired when the forward got both the bucket, and subsequent free throw, to go to complete the three-point play and reclaimed a three-point Keene lead, 47-44.
A few possessions later, Goebel’s first free throw made him the game’s third double-digit scorer and the second brought the Runnin’ Tigers within one-point, 49-48, with 1:14 to play in regulation.
Shallow breaths and nervous eyes watched the next 59 seconds of game action go scoreless.
Letal took a Keene in bound pass across half court and into a Glen Rose defensive trap.
Ethan Hartman stripped the ball from Letal, lost control, regained control and, as he was falling to the hardwood, fed the ball up the left baseline to Goebel. The senior forward then found a streaking Holder near the right wing.
Holder took a dribble and three steps into an unplanted Keene defender, and drew the shooting foul and a chance to tie or take the lead with 15.18 seconds on the game clock.
His first hit nothing but cotton. The second, after it rattled home, capped his 4-for-4 night from the charity stripe.
The 50-49 lead was the first of the game for the Runnin’ Tigers and the last one they would need. Glen Rose closed out the win on a 22-13 scoring run.
Behind Garza’s 15 points, Goebel finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, Holder added eight points, five rebounds and team-high two blocks, while Crawford put together a nice stat line of seven points, seven rebounds and team-high five assists.
Overton added four points, Hartman notched three and Cashion Klipfell rounded out the scoring with two.
The Runnin’ Tigers concluded their regular season with a last-second loss on the road to Millsap. The loss, combined with Hillsboro's upset of Peaster, knocked the Runnin' Tigers into the No. 4 spot in 11-3A.
Glen Rose will take on No. 3 (30-3, 14-0) Life Waxahachie High School at Midlothian Heritage High School on Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.