Momentum can be a tricky thing.
One minute, it’s on your side and every shot you take is falling. The next second, however, you can find yourself in a battle for a victory.
That’s precisely what happened to the Peebles Indians on Friday, Jan. 8 against the Ripley Blue Jays. Peebles jumped out to a big lead at halftime but had to withstand a second-half surge by the Blue Jays en route to a 51-48 victory.
The Indians and Blue Jays traded blows in the first quarter. Peebles jumped out to a 9-3 lead, but Ripley out-scored the Indians 7-5 over the final 2:53 to pull within four at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, however, Ripley’s offense disappeared. Peebles out-scored the Blue Jays 15-4 in the quarter, taking what appeared to be a commanding 29-15 lead into halftime. Peebles head coach Josh Arey said his team’s defense allowed them to go on that run.
“We got into some half-court traps and forced them into a few turnovers, which led to some easy baskets,” Arey said.
The third quarter was a completely different story. Ripley held the Indians scoreless for six minutes, with Peebles’ first basket of the half coming from Tanner Arey with 2:11 left. Ripley would see three different players hit three-pointers in the quarter, cutting the Indians lead to 35-30 as the fourth quarter began.
Arey said his team could not do anything on offense in the third quarter, and fouls prevented their defense from playing the same aggressive style they had played in the second quarter.
“We got into a bit of foul trouble and backed our pressure off a bit,” Arey said. “They did a better job of breaking the pressure, which is a credit to them. We just got really stagnant offensively. We missed some shots that we normally make, I think we went about six minutes without scoring, which is the longest stretch we’ve had this season. They were able to captialize on that, get into the paint and hurt us a bit.”
Whatever issues the Indians had in the third quarter were quickly solved in the fourth. Peebles scored the first five points of the fourth quarter, pushing the lead back up to 11, 41-30. Ripley head coach Marty Adams said a lack of communication on defense allowed the Indians to make the run.
“We’d subbed some guys to give people some breaks after we made that run and I think we had some match up problems,” Adams said. “We didn’t communicate on defense so we had some bad match ups and they made that run. We turned it over a few times and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Ripley righted the ship, however, and a 12-4 run over the next four minutes brought the team within three points with 1:23 remaining. The teams would combine to score 12 more points in the final 83 seconds, but a Josh Deaton three-pointer from the top of the key fell short as time expired, giving Peebles the victory.
The teams combined to score 34 points in the fourth quarter, more than the Jays had scored in the entire game prior. Arey said things like that happen sometimes, and credited the Blue Jays for hitting difficult shots that kept them in the game.
“It’s funny how this game goes sometimes,” Arey said. “They hit some pretty difficult shots, hit a few threes and got into the paint and made some layups. We just kind of answered back and forth. We were able to hit our free-throws late, which ended up being the deciding factor in the game. Our kids didn’t quit, they continued to play hard even when things weren’t going their way.”
Tanner Arey led all scorers with 14 points. Laymon Marshall led the Blue Jays with 10. Camron Godley had just three points entering the fourth quarter for Peebles, but finished the game with nine. Arey said the offensive outburst by the Indians could be attributed to better ball movement.
“We just tried to concentrate on ball movement,” Arey said. “I felt like in the third quarter we were taking too many quick shots after one or two passes. We were feeling pressure a little bit to push the lead back out and as a result of that we took some bad shots. We just got more patient early on in the fourth quarter and were able to score a little bit, and it’s a good thing we did.”
The Indians have a few days off before returning to the court for a battle against Portsmouth at home on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m.
“Portsmouth’s pretty good,” Arey said. “They’ve got one of the best players in the district in Kyrie Allison. He’s an excellent player who can get to the rim. A good athlete, a good shooter and they’ve got some kids around him. It’ll be a great test for our ballclub and we need that, we need those kinds of tests going forward, trying to get ready for the tournament.”