DALE – Some clutch buckets and solid defensive play sealed a 52-48 home win for Dale over Amber-Pocasset Friday night.
“That was a big win. Am-Po is probably going to be ranked in 2A, they have pretty much everybody coming back from last year's team and we didn't have everybody coming back,” coach Jeff Edmonson said. “We 're really inexperienced so I couldn't be more proud of the boys. I knew this one was going to be tough and I knew it was going to take four quarters.”
Tied at 44 with 1:28 left in the game, Dustin Thompson made a basket and Logan Woodruff hit a triple with 47 seconds left ot go up 49-44. A 3-6 team performance from the charity stripe kept Am-Po at bay.
Woodruff started the fourth quarter surge with a layup and-one to tie up at 38 with 6:14 to go. In the final six minutes Woodruff, Brady Johnson and Gabe Gouge each hit a 3-pointer.
One big key to the win and taking over in the fourth quarter was a change in defense from zone to man.
“We decided to go play man-to-man because we felt like we can guard these guys if we can just stay out of foul trouble... that kinda changed the game right there,” Edmonson said.
The game was neck and neck from the start, but it was Gouge's first quarter performance – scoring 11 of The Pirates' 13 points – that kept the Panthers from getting out ahead. With a 19-17 advantage and 4:23 left in the first half, Woodruff drained a three to kick off a 7-0 run for Dale, but a 8-0 run by Am-Po's Kyler Keef got within one at the break.
Gouge led the Pirates with 16 points and had two 3-pointers, Woodruff had 13 and Johnson dropped nine. The team was a collective 4-13 the free-throw line
The Panthers' Nathan Ratcliff led all scorers with 19 points with three 3-pointers and was 4-4 from the line before fouling out late in the fourth.
Edmonson knew what Am-Po was working with and that they would have a strong defensive presence, so his guys needed to keep the ball moving and hold onto it until they saw an opening.
“Am-Po plays good defense, they switch everything, they're ready to help,” he said. “I knew it was going to take five or six passes, we were going to have to have long possessions and be patient to get good shots.”
Dale (2-1) will have some time off to relax before coming back for a home stand against unbeaten Okarche (3-0) November 28. Edmonson was happy to enter the Thanksgiving break with a good win under their belts before coming back to face another difficult team.
“It's a nice win, especially going into the holiday. We're off for like 10 or so days, so it's definitely good to think about a win and not think about a loss,” he said.