DALE – It was discipline at the free throw line that ultimately pushed 2-0 Dale over Latta (0-1) 40-31 Tuesday night at home. The Pirates were 21 of 31 on courtesy throws in the game, but 12-15 in the fourth quarter to hang on for the win.
“That was the plan the fourth quarter, shoot a bunch of free throws. Hold the ball, make them foul us and keep that lead. It's kinda like a playoff game. A lot of playoff games are won that way,” coach Jeff Edmonson said.
Leading 22-14 going to the final eight minutes of the game, the Pirates knew Latta would be taking them to the free throw line to try and get back in it. The Panthers got within four to shorten the lead to 35-31 with just over a minute left, but Dale put up five more unanswered points to hold them off.
The Pirates found themselves trailing 8-4 by the end of the first and gave up four more unanswered to fall behind 12-4 with 7:33 left before the half.
Cole Seaborn dropped a bucket to end a six minute, 25 second drought and kick off a 10-0 run that would give the Pirates a 14-12 lead going to the break, capped on one-and-one free throws by Seaborn.
They continued with a 12-0 run in the first five minutes of the second half and took a 22-14 lead through the third. Latta's only bucket of the third quarter came with 1:03 remaining.
“We contested on the three's and luckily they missed and we did a good job rebounding. And we finally scored a little bit. We got a few buckets and kinda chipped our way back in it and got the lead,” Edmonson said. “It's good to play with the lead in games like that. Especially when it gets around to the fourth, because we knew we could get to the free throw line."
Seaborn led the Pirates with 11 points, Brett Cunningham had nine and Aaron Hester dropped eight. Cunningham led in rebounding with six, Hester had five boards and Gant Hathcock came up with four.
After starting the season with wins against Preston who finished runner-up at State last year and Latta, who made improvements over the summer, Edmonson likes where his team stands to start the season.
“We knew going in these would be two really tough games. Everybody was asking us how good we are and I said 'I dunno, we're gonna find out. We play Preston and Latta right of the bat, so you'll know how good we are.' I guess we're pretty good,” he said. “We play hard, we've got a lot of leadership in some upper classmen, we play good defense and we do what it takes to get wins.”
The Pirates will face their first road challenge Friday as they travel to 1-1 Amber-Pocasset.