Randolph Boys Can’t Hold Halftime Lead, Fall To Tapestry, 63-54
No. 4 Tapestry Charter did not get out of the gate the way it would have liked to during Saturday night’s Section VI Class C boys basketball final, but the Thunder Hawks had a short memory of the rough start and rallied with 46 points in the final two quarters to claim a 63-54 upset win over No. 1 Randolph at the Physical Education Complex on the campus of Jamestown Community College.
“You have to handle the pressure, handle the moment. You have to be strong with the ball and when you have young guys sometimes it’s a learning experience,” said Randolph coach Kevin Hind following the loss to finish the year at 13-10. “I just got done telling these guys (that) bottom line is we got beat. At the end of the game they picked it up, they took care of the ball, they picked up the pressure and beat us and you have to learn from that.”
On a night when there were plenty of talented underclassmen on the hardwood, it was freshman guard Tariq Eubanks who would come away with the Intense Milk/Cross Training Athletics Character Athlete award after leading the Thunder Hawks (17-6) offense all night while finishing with 13 points.
Fittingly, it was Eubanks who was able to come up with the ball after a Randolph turnover with just over six minutes to play in the game. The freshman would use that opportunity to finish off a lay-in on the ensuing fast break and give the Thunder Hawks their first lead of the night at 45-43, a margin they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
The first lead of the evening for the No. 4 seed was set up after Dorian Plummer was able to finish in close for 2 of his 8 points, while Mike Towns was able to come up with a steal and finish on a drive to bring things to even at 43-43 just before Eubanks was able to take the lead.
Towns would end his night with eight steals to go along with eight rebounds and 10 points.
“The thing that we do best all season is run and try to pressure the ball and hopefully they make a few mistakes, which they did,” said Tapestry head coach Jeff Liebner, who was able to use his full-court press effectively all night long. “I think my senior Mike Towns did a great job on their shooter (Tyler Hind). We told him, ‘Don’t leave him’ and I think that changed the game around because once he made the pass we wanted to make sure he didn’t get it back.”
Liebner continued: “As you see, we gave up a couple of corner shots and they came through, but we just had to keep our head up high and do what we believe in which is put pressure on the ball.”
While Hind would also end his night with a character athlete award for the Cardinals, the sophomore was unable to find his stride from long range in the closing minutes after starting out red hot from beyond the arc.
After Isaac Wakefield hit a pair of makes at the free-throw line with around five minutes to play, Hind put up an attempt from very long range that missed the mark, while Tapestry was able to counter with a bucket in the post from Emanuel Truehart, who would finish with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Hind rebounded from that miss with a pair of buckets at the line, but Eubanks was once again able to respond to with a difficult reverse layup to give Tapestry a lead at 53-47.
“He’s quick, I mean he’s faster than lightning,” Kevin Hind said of Eubanks. “He broke our level down, that’s what happened. He got into the paint and he found guys and he distributed the ball. We didn’t do a good job of keeping him in front of us.”
With the Thunder Hawks continuing to stretch their margin, Hind was forced to put up another long 3 attempt in the face of pressure, but that bucket would also miss the mark, allowing Tapestry to settle for foul shots and inside buckets down the stretch.
Wakefield was able to find an open look and bury a trey for the Cardinals with 1:25 remaining to pull within eight points, and things got even closer after Hind was able to finish off a three-point play after being fouled on a lay-in to pull Randolph within five at the one-minute mark.
Unfortunately from that point on the Thunder Hawks were able to ride out the victory at the line, finishing with makes from Plummer and Towns.
After taking a 28-16 lead into halftime, the Cardinals were forced to make some lineup changes entering the third quarter as junior center Andrew Bernard got into foul trouble, eventually picking up his fifth in the opening moments of the fourth.
“Andrew must have played three minutes. He had a tough night. He wasn’t on the court a whole lot and that hurt us,” said Hind.
With Bernard unavailable for long stretches, eighth-grader Gabe McCoy did his best to step up for the Cardinals in the post, finishing with 7 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Hind would end his night with 16 points, five assists and three steals while Wakefield finished with 11 points.
Tapestry advances to the Far West Regional against the Section V champion at 1:45 p.m. next Saturday at Buffalo State.
Plummer 2 4 8, Towns 3 4 10, Eubanks 5 2 13, Robinson 3 2 8, James 1 0 3, Truehart 5 2 12, Wilson 3 2 9. Totals 22 16 63.
Steward 2 0 4, Hind 5 4 16, Wakefield 3 2 11, Donaldson 2 0 6, McCoy 3 1 7, Bernard 2 0 4, George 2 0 6. Totals 19 7 54.
3-point goals: Hind 2, Wakefield 3, Donaldson 2, George 2, Eubanks, James, Wilson.
Tapestry 7 9 21 25–63
Randolph 12 16 15 11–54