Clutch free throws lift Victoria East to win
Buzzer beating baskets and clutch 3-pointers are the more glorious and popular way to win close games, but hitting baskets from the free throw line 12-feet away is just as effective for Victoria East guard Christian Herring.
The senior scored all seven of his points from the free throw line in the final 4:29 to help the Titans (1-1) to a 60-59 win over the Corpus Christi John Paul II Centurions (2-7) on Tuesday at the East gym.
"We've just have to make them," Herring said. "I wish I could have made all of them. I'm glad I made the ones I did to keep us into it."
Herring, one of three returners from last season, hit 7 of 9 from the charity stripe to help East close out the win in East's first game on its home floor.
"You have to make free throws to win at the end and he made some big ones," said Titans coach John Grammer.
Junior post Trevon Ramey led the team with 18 points while Terry Kinney and Xavier Ellis added 10 points apiece.
The Titans never trailed and led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but they still found themselves in a tight game against a Centurions, team out of TAPPS Class 5A.
After Herring's final sucessful free throw gave the Titans a 60-57 lead with 39 seconds remaining, John Paul II guard Marcos Williams answered with a pair of free throws to make it a one-point game with 14.6 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing East possession, Ellis was called for a charge while trying to dish off to Herring for an easy layup.
The Centurions got the ball with an opportunity to win the game with 5.5 seconds remaining, but a Williams 3-pointer from the near corner was too long and Ramey snagged the defensive rebound as time expired.
"It was bad, but we got the win so I can't complain," Herring said.
"We have to get better when handling in game situations," added Grammer. "I didn't think we kept our cool as well as we should have."
It was apparent early on that the Centurions wanted no part of the Ramey and Justin Shaw in the middle.
Six of the first nine Centurion shots were from 3-point range and none were taken in the paint. A Joe Moreno 3-pointer broke a 0-9 shooting slump for John Paul II.
The front court trio of Ramey, Ellis and Shaw combined to score 36 points and eight of John Paul II's 14 made baskets were from 3-point range.
"I wish we could have just kept giving it to them and let them play, but they get tired too," Herring said with a smile.
East outrebounded John Paul II 39-12, including 8-0 in the fourth quarter, and scored 30 points in the paint to eight from the Centurions.
"We'll get better at doing that," Grammer said. "That's kind of what our strength is going to be, getting the ball in the post and (letting) those guys operate."