HENRY — Heading into the Tri-County Conference Tournament, you want your team playing its best, and Friday night both Henry-Senachwine and Woodland showed that’s exactly the case, but in the end the Mallards fought off the Warriors for 60-52 victory.
“That was definitely a battle out there,” Henry coach Brandon Pettett said. “I think that’s the Tri-County Conference for you. I think there are so many scrappy teams and anyone can beat anyone on any given night and Woodland showed they’re right in the mix as well, but credit to our guys for keeping calm and getting the win.”
The Mallards led 35-32 to start the fourth quarter and extended that lead when John Rediger hit a layup and missed the free throw, but he got the offensive rebound and the putback for the 41-34 advantage.
The Warriors responded once again as they had all game as Christian Miller drained a 3-pointer and then Trevor Derossett found a wide open Mason Ewing to tie the game at 41-41.
“I could not be prouder of our guys,” Woodland coach Connor Kaminke said. “Earlier in the year we were getting beat by 30 or 40 points and to see our guys right there in the end with a chance to win was tremendous. We had a nice run there and tied the game and never let things get out of hand.”
For the first time in the game, Henry decided to use a full-court press and it worked to perfection and caught the Warriors off guard.
Ethan Condit hit 1-of-2 free throws to regain the lead for the Mallards and the next time down the floor he drove to the basket and got a bucket and the foul.
Rediger followed with an offensive rebound and the putback before Condit hit two more shots from the charity stripe.
The next two possessions saw a steal and layup from Condit and the another steal from Griffin Self that led to a pair of free throws to cap off a 12-0 run that gave the Mallards a 53-41 lead.
“We don’t use the press much,” Pettett said. “I’ve been looking for a chance to use it and I thought it was a good time and the guys succeeded and it ended up putting us over the edge tonight.”
A Trevor Derossett layup ended the Warriors drought before Phoenix Cooper hit a pull-up jumper from the free throw line, but the damage had been done as the Mallards came away with the 60-52 victory.
Woodland started the game out strong with Sean Bundy driving and hitting a shot before getting a steal and layup to go along with a foul for a quick 5-0 lead.
Self got the Mallards on the board with an offensive rebound and Condit later cut through defenders for a tough bucket to give Henry a 6-5 lead.
Griffin and Derossett exchanged 3-pointers as the Mallards led 11-8 after the opening period.
Jacob Miller then had a big second quarter for the Mallards.
He started things off with a drive and a layup before hitting a 3-pointer for a 16-8 advantage.
Cooper cut into Henry’s lead with a jumper from 15 feet, but Miller hit another 3-pointer to extend the Mallards lead to 23-14.
Before the half ended, Cooper muscled his way into the lane for the Warriors, but Henry led 26-16 at the break.
Henry started the second half with a fastbreak layup from Miller, but the Warriors started to climb back into the game.
Bundy had a fastbreak layup own before Derossett hit a shot behind the arc before getting a steal and the old-fashioned three-point play that cut the deficit to 30-27.
Moments later, Miller hit a corner 3-pointer to give the Mallards a 35-29 lead.
Bundy hit the 3-pointer for the Warriors, but Henry led 35-32 heading into the fourth.
Henry was led by Miller with 22 points to go along with 18 from Condit and 11 from Self. Woodland was led by Derossett with 22 points and Bundy with 14.
Woodland returns to action Saturday when it face DePue at home at 6 p.m. in the play-in game for the Tri-County Conference Tournament.
Henry opens up the Tri-County Tournament at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday against Putnam County.
Brad Martin Sr. can be reached at 220-6939 or at email@example.com