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Waterloo survives fourth-quarter collapse, tops Windham in OT

Waterloo survives fourth-quarter collapse, tops Windham in OT


Waterloo’s Kaii Warren hustles down a loose ball during Wednesday’s overtime.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

By Tom Nader

Publisher and Editor


When Jackson Eichler scored to open Wednesday’s overtime period, it was a reminder to the Waterloo Vikings and their head coach Jason Wise that the ball did actually still fit.

The Vikings’ Kaii Warren leaps to avoid Windham defenders Brandon Petrich (5) and Jake Collins as he scoops up a layup attempt during Wednesday’s first quarter.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

It also jumpstarted a dominant extra session that led to the Vikings’ 57-44 non-league road victory over the Windham Bombers on Marty Hill Court.

The basket for Eichler snapped a nearly 10-minute scoring drought for the Vikes, who had dominated action through the first three quarters to gain a 44-27 advantage over the host Bombers.

Then, an unimaginable fourth-quarter effort featured Waterloo scoring zero points, while Windham slowly chipped away at its deficit.

The combination of a zone-press that sped up Waterloo and some hot shooting, including Carlos Bruton hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 12 fourth-quarter points, allowed the Bombers to suddenly tie the score 44-44 with 37.2 seconds remaining on a made free throw by Bruton.

After advancing the ball past halfcourt, Waterloo called timeout to draw up a set play that created a great opportunity in the paint, but no points.

Windham rebounded the ball and called a timeout of its own.

The Bombers worked the ball around for about 20 seconds before creating a dribble-drive and kickout pass for a 3-point attempt from the left wing that was long.

Waterloo rebounded and called timeout with 3.6 second left. A desperation shot for Waterloo from beyond halfcourt hit the ceiling with four-tenths of a second left to give Windham possession at midcourt. The Bombers’ attempt to lob a pass toward the rim for a miraculous tip-in was blocked away.

Jackson Eichler floats in the air after releasing a first-half shot over Windham’s Jake Collins.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

Waterloo then controlled every moment of the overtime, holding the Bombers scoreless for the four minutes.

“That was probably four minutes of our best basketball we have played all season,” Wise said of the overtime.

The Vikings got the win, but it was another night that Wise saw some tendencies that he said his team needs to correct.

“This is our third or fourth game in a row that we have leads going into the fourth quarter, and we need to finish games, and we let teams back into it,” Wise said. “These is kinda becoming our M.O. and teams are recognizing it. That they can press us, get more physical with us and take away our momentum. We need to grow up a little and learn how to close out these games.”

Similarly, Windham head coach Cody Apthorpe had seen this act from his Bombers before.

“We just keep doing this. We are way too up and down,” said Apthorpe, referencing his team’s lethargic play in the first quarter (4 points), better second quarter (17 points), then back to a lack of enthusiasm in the third quarter (6 points) before pushing back into the game with a 17-point fourth quarter.

Waterloo senior forward Drew Flarida looks for someone to pass to while Windham’s Jake Collins defends.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

“I told the team that playing like that makes it very difficult to win games,” Apthorpe said. “There has to be an accountability to stay committed and to remain concentrated for an entire game. You can’t just pick and choose when you want to play hard. Tonight, again, we had glimpses of what we are capable of, but it can’t just be glimpses. We need to play like those glimpses for the entire game. We need to play hard for the entire game, not just in spurts.”

Windham junior Carlos Bruton (left) raises for one of his three made 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as Waterloo’s Landon McClain closes out.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

Waterloo (5-3) was paced in scoring by Gage Hawley, who scored a career-high 22 points and played a huge role in building the Vikings’ double-digit lead in the first half. 

He connected on 8-of-16 from the field, hit all four of his free throws and made 2-of-3 from deep. He also had eight rebounds and three assists.

“Gage has started to play very well for us since we moved into the starting lineup,” Wise said. “He is a confident player, and he is not afraid of the moment.”

Eicher finished with 15 points, with 12 of those coming in the third quarter and overtime, while Drew Flarida also reached double figures with 10 points. Flarida added eight rebounds.

Waterloo’s offensive style of play was based on proper execution and of the team’s 19 made field goals, 17 of them had assists.

Five different Waterloo players had at least three assists, with Kyle Werbeck leading the way with four. Eichler, Kaii Warren, Hawley and Flarida all had three assists each.

Windham’s offensive leader was Bruton, who scored 16 points. Nick Hopper was the only other Bombers player in double-digits with 12 points, while he also had a team-high five rebounds and five assists.

Bombers guard Anthony Wiley dribbles against Waterloo defender Jackson Eichler during Wednesday’s non-league game in Windham.
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports


Windham’s Brandon Petrich puts up a shot in the key against Waterloo defenders Kaii Warren (left), Drew Flarida (center) and Gage Hawley and Jackson Eichler (right).
Paisley Nader/Portage Sports

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