Matty-Iced: Holder's free throws after the buzzer give Runnin' Tigers fourth-straight win

Travis M. Smith | @travis5mith Managing Editor
Bailey Holder toed the line after the final buzzer and drained two free throws, including this game winner, to give the Runnin' Tigers a 69-68 win over Springtown.

GLEN ROSE – The first four minutes of the first quarter were ugly for the Runnin’ Tigers and that is putting it nicely. Springtown opened the game on an 8-0 run and Glen Rose looked as though it may never score.

The offense came around and thanks to 11 three pointers, it looked as if Glen Rose may not ever stop scoring through three quarters. But after 32-full minutes of play, it appeared that (3-5) Springtown’s late charge to battle back from six points down with two minutes to play had netted the Porcupines a one-point road win.

Of course, it was not until after the final buzzer that Tuesday’s tilt inside Tiger Arena was decided.

After blowing a six-point lead with under two minutes to play, (7-1) Glen Rose found itself down one with 13 seconds to answer or risk an end to its three-game win streak. Senior Tucker Garza pulled up for a 16-footer that rolled around and out, but Matthew "Matty" Bailey Holder was there to grab the rebound and go up for the game winner from the right block.

The shot missed, but Holder was fouled as the buzzer sounded. The senior forward never flinched and drained both attempts for the rare walk off on the hardwood. The 69-68 win was Glen Rose’s seventh of the season, fourth-straight overall and kept the Runnin’ Tigers’ home record unscathed through three tries.

“We shot the ball well,” said head coach Owen Clifton after Tuesday night’s win. “Yes, we took some bad shots from behind the arc, but overall we shot the ball very well. It was one of those games that everyone shot the ball well, including Springtown. When we doubled down on the post, they had shooters who could knock down shots.

“[…] [The offensive rebounds] were huge, and that is why we shoot the ball a lot, because we crash the boards hard I think our kids to a really nice job of grabbing the ball off of the offensive glass. We, sometimes jokingly, make it a goal to get at least one over-the-back call against us on the offensive end a game. They were definitely larger than we were, but we outrebounded them 30-22, so I think that says something about the hustle and effort that the kids gave.”

When the Runnin’ Tigers need a big bucket to end a scoring run, Garza was there with a floater in the lane or three from the wing. A week removed from his career-high 29-point outing, the Glen Rose floor general reeled off 22 points on a perfect 4-4 shooting from the floor and 40 percent (4-10) from behind the arc. A performance that Clifton has come to “expect” from his senior guard.

“This is the Tucker that I thought we were going to have,” Clifton explained, “and we did not see that early on in the season. I know that is kind of sad and you want to say, ‘Hey, you did a great job,’ but this is what I expect of Tucker. I think he runs our offense very well and I don’t think he came out once tonight. He did some great things offensively, and he is doing a nice job of facilitating and eliminating turnovers.

“But he is not alone, and if you take out those first four minutes of the first quarter where we might have thought [Springtown] was just going to come in here and lay down, then I thought we all did a nice job of battling back.”

Garza’s team-high 22 points were matched by Wyatt Goebel and his 4-6 shooting (67 percent) from three-point land.

It was actually a Goebel three from four feet behind the arc late in the second quarter that sparked an 11-2 Glen Rose run to knot the game at 32. The tie was the first since the opening seconds, and it was the first pair of Holder free throws that capped the scoring run with 99 ticks remaining in the opening half that gave the Runnin’ Tigers their first lead.

Holder finished the game with 11 points, while Cashion Kilpfell - who Clifton credited with being the team’s sparkplug off the bench after the win - knocked down two three-pointers en route to his eight-point evening.

“We came out defensively and it was very lackluster,” Clifton said. “We had a bad practice Monday and it just kind of carried over. Thank goodness we have Cashion Kilpfell on the team, because he came in and I thought he gave us a spark, not only by hitting a couple big shots, but defensively.

“I thought he played a great game. I know Bailey hit the big free throws at the end, but I feel Cashion was the guy who really got us back into the game. ”

Ethan Hartman scored four points, collected four rebounds, and dished out three assists, but none of his rebounds or points were as big as the offensive board and two free throws he accounted for with 36 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

Although it did not show up in the stat box, Devin Crawford had his hands full in the low post and did his best to contain the first true center the Runnin’ Tigers have seen all season.

“[Dawson Meek] was the first real post we have played,” Clifton said. “He was skilled and he wasn’t only a big cat, he could play. He could go right, he could go left, he could feel where the defender was, he was just very good.”

Meek finished with a game-high 32 points and almost every single one came in the paint.

Turning points

After a Goebel three gave Glen Rose a game-high nine-point lead with six minutes to play in the fourth, the Porcupines began charging. With the Runnin’ Tigers lead down to four, Garza responded with another picture-perfect runner in the lane to keep the Glen Rose advantage at an uncomfortable six points.

By the 3:57 mark in the fourth, the 26-Springtown faithful in attendance had all decided they were better suited to referee a high school basketball game than the three men being paid to do so. As they continued to banter, Glen Rose continued to maintain its lead over its 4A counterpart.

It is almost certain that those in attendance donning orange and black were not fond of the nearly executed Goebel-to-Holder-alley-oop pass, either. The two points from the glorified layup ran the Glen Rose lead to 63-57 with a few ticks over two minutes to play, but seven-straight Springtown points brought the Porcupine faithful to their feet and gave them a one-point lead to cheer about.

Garza’s third runner of the game gave the senior guard his 22 points and the Runnin’ Tigers a one-point lead, but Springtown answered on its ensuing possession to retake it.

Hartman pulled down the biggest offensive board of the night to that point, and knocked down both ends of a one-and-one for the two biggest Glen Rose free throws and points of the 32-minute contest with 36 seconds to play.

However, it was not until after the final buzzer that the contest was decided. Holder was fouled hard on his attempted buzzer beater from the low block with the Runnin’ Tigers down one and drained both free throws for the 69-68 win.

The Runnin’ Tigers will return to action on Thursday when 17 teams descend on Glen Rose for the annual Lions Club Invitational.

Grab your coffee, because Glen Rose will kick off the tournament with the opener at 8 a.m. against China Springs on Thursday morning inside Tiger Arena and will close out the opening day with an 8 p.m. tilt against Life Oak, also inside the arena. The Runnin’ Tigers will then return to the hardwood to round out the B bracket of pool play on Friday, December 11 at 2 p.m. against Fort Worth Christian.

Clifton’s squad will take the court for a second time on Friday, but the time will be determined by its record in pool play. The possible Friday times are 3:30, 5, 6:30, or 8 p.m.