SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Up by four points with about a minute and a half to go Saturday against Springfield Central, Windsor (Conn.) High's Andrew Hurd dribbled the ball up over halfcourt.
Together with his teammates, they worked the ball around the floor, bringing the shot clock down to five seconds. Two seconds later, Jaquan Harrison hit a layup to put his team ahead 59-53 with under a minute to go.
That proved to be the dagger, as the Warriors went on to win, 61-55, to kick off day three of the Hoophall Classic, at Springfield College's Blake Arena.
Windsor (8-1) led the whole game until 1:33 left in the third quarter, when Central senior guard Chris Prophet (16 points, 7 rebounds) converted a three-point play to put his team ahead 43-40. Windsor quickly answered back with a basket of its own, but Central (8-1) took the 1-point lead into the final quarter.
It was then that Windsor went on a 10-2 run to take the lead right back.
“We didn’t play as good as we could have played, I thought we could have played a lot better,” said Windsor coach Ken Smith. “Springfield Central is a very good team. They’re the best team, they say, up in this area, so I thought we fought real hard. We didn’t give up.”
One could not help but think of the slogan on the back of the shirt Smith wore on the sideline during the game: “How bad do you want it?” When things got tough for Windsor, was when it picked its game up the most.
“The third quarter was that adversity. They fought to the bitter end, and that’s what we ask them to do, and they did it.”
Central almost caught a break with 4:12 left in the game. Down 52-50, Windsor committed its seventh foul of the half, meaning that for the last half of the fourth quarter, Central would be shooting foul shots. Almost on cue, Windsor stretched its lead to 8, negating any effect its foul troubles might have gave them.
“That’s just how Windsor is,” said freshman Jared Wilson-Frame, who contributed 15 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Warriors. “If we get down, we’re going to come back. We’re going to come back and pick our heads up. We never get down on anything.”
Central's Tyrell Springer was just behind Prophet in the scorebook with 15 points and 7 rebounds of his own.
Controlling the glass: One of the biggest reasons Springfield Central kept the game close was its success on the defensive glass. Early on, not only did the Golden Eagles prevent Windsor from getting second-chance scoring opportunities, but its big men allowed the guards to get out in transition and create plays. When it pushed the ball up the floor, it lead to missed Windsor defensive assignments and easier baskets. Windsor tried to match the pace, but Central just ran its breakouts more effectively.
Although Central out-rebounded the Warriors 53-44, it was Windsor that was better on the glass down the stretch, preventing Central from getting those tip-ins and other opportunities it was getting in the first half.
“We don’t really have a big, strong guy this year,” said Wilson-Frame. “One of them is a junior (Jaquan Harrison) and one of them is a senior (Theodore Lee) who wasn’t even on the varsity last year. We’re working with them to get them tougher, but to me they played a strong game today.”
“They killed us on the glass in the first half, so we had to make an adjustment,” said Smith. “What really helped us we got their big guy (Kamari Robinson) in foul trouble. When he got in trouble, that limited it, but sometimes with kids, they relax. That’s what hurt us also.”
Fab Frosh: Wilson-Frame made a statement for himself as a freshman with his performance on a big stage. With his 6-for-12 showing from the floor, he turned a lot of heads and proved himself to be someone to watch as he moves forward in his high school career.
“He has a lot of upside,” said Smith. “My thing is building his character. He needs to have good character if he’s going to play for me, and he needs to work hard and have a good work ethic. I don’t think he realizes how good he really could be. If he even felt like he was a lot better, he would have played a lot more and did a lot more things. But he has to play defense first. If he’s not going to play defense, we’re not going to play him.”