LANCASTER – For such a young and inexperienced team, Lancaster continues to show a lot of grit and determination, which was on full display Tuesday night against New Albany.
The Golden Gales fell behind 12-0 to start the game but came storming back and went on a 19-2 run which led to a six-point halftime lead. They were able to maintain their lead in the third quarter but gave it up midway through the fourth.
At that point, it would have been easy for the Gales, because of their lack of experience, to fold, but instead, they continued to fight and were able to make enough plays down the stretch to pull out a hard-fought 50-46 non-conference win over the visiting Eagles.
Trailing 44-40 with just under five minutes remaining, Lancaster went on an 8-0 run to seize control. During that stretch, the Gales went 6-for-6 at the free throw line, with Tre Williams, Tyler Carpenter and Hayden Allen hitting two each, and Canon Allen connected on a huge 3-pointer, which gave the Gales a 45-44 lead with just under two minutes left.
After New Albany made one of two free throws to cut the deficit to 48-46, Lancaster was able to break the Eagles’ full-court press and scored on a layup from Carpenter to seal the deal.
Lancaster improved to 4-1 on the season and in all four of its wins, the Gales have had to come from behind.
“We have a lot of heart, and we play with a lot of effort,” Carpenter said. “We practice hard and try to get better each day. We have been down in our last four games, but we just have the heart to come back and not give up. With each win, it just gives us more and more confidence.
The Gales start one senior, three juniors and a sophomore and the top players off the bench are underclassmen.
Lancaster coach Kent Riggs was impressed with his team's grit, especially after being 12-0 and then losing the lead in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t execute the best, at times, but our effort was outstanding,” Riggs said. “There were a couple of times we turned the ball over and we hustled back and stopped them from getting a layup. We could have given up, but we hustled back and stopped them from getting an easy bucket. I’m proud of them for showing a lot of fight and spunk.
“Most of our games have been close, and every game we have won we had to come back and win and it’s encouraging to see that. We need to start playing a little better at the start of games, but just the confidence and not getting down on yourself and just hanging in there and keep battling is good to see.”
Lancaster had a balanced scoring attack, and everyone contributed. Canon Ailes led the way with 14 points, including four 3-pointers and five rebounds, Hayden Allen finished with nine points and five rebounds and Colton Bruny had eight points, including two 3-pointers and four assists. J.D. Thomas and Carpenter added seven points and Tre Williams chipped in five points and six rebounds.
After the Eagles took a 12-0 lead, the Gales finished the final 2:38 of the first quarter on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 12-10 at the end of the first quarter. Allen scored five points during that stretch to lead the way.
The Gales continued their hot streak in the second quarter. Allen hit a short jumper, Bruny and Thomas connected on 3-pointers, and Allen capped the 19-2 with a free throw. When the dust had settled, the Gales had a 19-14 lead.
Lancaster finished the half strong, thanks to Ailes, who drained a pair of 3-pointers and Williams converted a three-point play to give the Gales a 30-21 lead with just four seconds left in the half. However, the Eagles’ Sam Dunn threw in a running 3-pointer at the buzzer to cut the margin to 30-24 at halftime.
Lancaster was able to maintain its lead in the third quarter and head into the fourth quarter with a 40-36 lead. New Albany started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 44-40 lead before the Gales mounted their comeback.
The Gales returns to action Friday when they host Groveport in an Ohio Capital Conference-Buckeye Division game.
“This group seems to like each other and when that’s the case, you practice better and you encourage each other when things aren’t going well and that has a long-lasting impact, too,” Riggs said.
Tom Wilson is a sports reporter for the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. Contact him at 740-689-5150 or via email at email@example.com for comments or story tips. Follow him on Twitter @twil2323.
This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: Feisty Gales show a lot of grit in a come-from-behind win over New Albany