It may not have been the perfect shot Snider boys basketball coach John Todor wanted Tuesday at Snider, but it was certainly one he will take from senior guard Treyvon Covington.
Trailing New Haven by two points with 36.8 seconds left, the Panthers had the ball out of bounds under their own basket. They knew what to do, having practiced these plays ad nauseam Todor said.
With a quick adjustment to New Haven's defense, Covington came around a screen to the corner, received the pass and quickly put up a three that fell through the basket. It would be the game winner as Snider (13-4) won 56-55 against Class 3A No. 4 New Haven (12-3) to extend its winning streak to eight games and snap the Bulldogs' seven-game winning streak.
"We wanted to go inside, but he (Covington) was open and he knocked it down," Todor said. "He missed a couple earlier ones when our shots weren't quite falling for a while, but fortunate to have that one go in."
After the big three-pointer, Snider made sure to deny New Haven big man Steve McElvene from getting the ball on the final possessions. The Bulldogs' first attempt saw the Panthers' Devlyn Williams come over and knock out an entry pass to him, and then the Panthers triple-teamed him on the ensuing inbounds play. It resulted in Jailan Wattley taking a shot from the baseline that fell out just over a second before the buzzer.
New Haven was in the position to win at the end but struggled at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs missed four free throws, including the front end of a one-and-one in the final 2:12 of the game, to allow Snider to stay within a possession. New Haven missed seven free throws in the second half.
"We lost the game because we didn't make the free throws," Gooden said. "Have to make free throws. ... Just didn't come out and execute today. Didn't execute, didn't hit free throws, but nothing against our team, though. Played a good team on their court."
That court has been an advantage for Snider all season. The win kept the Panthers undefeated at home with just one more home game remaining this season against Homestead on Feb. 21.
"Very important my senior year to me (not to lose at home)," Covington said. "Some of these guys are new, some of these guys have been here before when a team (in 2010-11) before us didn't lose at home one year, and we have to accomplish that goal."
Helping keep the streak alive was strong inside play from Williams. The junior forward had no issues attacking McElvene inside, routinely going right at him, absorbing contact and scoring as he led the Panthers with 15 points. McElvene's 17 points and eight
rebounds led New Haven.
"I was just worried about finishing," Williams said. "I knew I was going to bump into him, and when I bump into him to hold it for a little bit and smack (the ball) off the glass."
Williams' play is something the Panthers will need to continue if its current winning streak is going to extend further. With three weeks until sectional play begins, Todor knows what this type of game and win mean to his team.
"We knew this was a physical team with some size and athleticism and would make a great defensive effort, and it's a big win for us," Todor said. "Every game is different and every game gets you ready for the postseason. That's what high school basketball is about."