It’s rare to see free throws be the difference in a game between Belvidere and Boylan, but last Friday night, the Titans took on the scrappy Bucs team at Wood Gym and barely escaped with a victory.
The Titans got on the board first, jumping out to a four point lead before George Waddell made his first two from under the basket and then tied the game with a ten foot jump shot. The lead went back and forth and the game tied at eight with 4:11 left in the first period. The defense of both teams clamped down hard in the paint. Neither team scored for two minutes. Boylan broke the scoring drought with a lay up against an undefended basket. The Bucs grabbed a rebound; Adam Cox lobbed the ball long distance to Brandon Fowler. There was no shot available, but he passed to Cox waiting under the basket to tie the game. The Titans got the ball inbounds, but Cox stole it away. He made the shot and went to the line for a free throw. The shot was good and the Bucs were up 13 – 10 with 1:29 left in the quarter. The Bucs led 15 – 10 before the Titans came back in the final minute with a pair of three-pointers to retake the lead 21 – 15.
The Bucs stayed close with the Titans through the first three minutes of the second period. Andrew Eck made a jump shot to give the Bucs a 26 – 25 advantage with 4:40 left in the half. Boylan wasn’t able to score again and Bucs got the rebound and scored two more in the paint. The Titans took a timeout to regroup. They came back into the game, getting more physical when going for the ball. Boylan retook the lead and went after the Bucs ball handling with a vengeance. The Bucs were shut down the last two minutes of the half while Boylan increased their lead to 35 – 28.
The Bucs hung tough with the Titans in the third period, staying within eight points of Boylan. As the fourth quarter went on, the Bucs battled to stay within ten points. Down 61 – 15 with 3:15 left to go in the game, Adam Cox made a lay up. Brandon Fowler hit a three pointer. The Titans go to the line in the next series, but missed. The Bucs got the rebound. Fowler couldn’t drive in, he passed to Moe Shahbain who also couldn’t find a shot, but he drew off the defender covering Wade Mootrey. He passed and Mootrey hit for two points. The Bucs were within four: 62 – 58 with 1:36 left.
The Bucs were forced to foul Boylan to prevent the Titans from running out the clock. Adam Cox stole the ball away from the Titans to score two and get a foul. He made it a three point play and the Bucs were only down 64 – 61. Boylan struggled to hold on to the ball. They scored two points, but the Bucs came back. Cox missed a shot, but picked up his own rebound and scored. The crowd was wild. Down 66 – 63 with 34 seconds left, the Bucs went to the line, but missed the free throw. Of all things, Boylan stopped the clock. The Titans got the ball inbounds and the Bucs immediately fouled to stop the clock again. Stephon Valentine made both free throws. The Bucs missed a three pointer; Boylan got it back and was fouled again. Brandon Fowler drained a three pointer to keep the Bucs within three points, 69 – 66 with 6.7 seconds left in the game. The Bucs took a time out, but there was ultimately nothing to discuss. They had to foul to get the ball back. The Titans went back to the line to make two more, putting the game out of reach. The final score was 71 – 66.
The Bucs traveled to Sycamore on Saturday to take on the Spartans in a non-conference game. While the Spartans led throughout and threatened to break it open in the fourth quarter, the Bucs battled back in the final two minutes to within five points before finally going down 87 – 79. The Bucs were back at home on Wednesday night against Harlem to celebrate Seniors Parent Night. They battled back to beat the Huskies 67 – 61.
Tonight, the Bucs travel to Dundee-Crown to take on the Chargers in a non-conference game. The game starts at 7:30 pm.