Whitko sophomore Drake Lewis steals the ball during the first quarter as Gabe Lloyd (L) and Dallas Holmes of Southwood give chase. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
Whitko sophomore Drake Lewis steals the ball during the first quarter as Gabe Lloyd (L) and Dallas Holmes of Southwood give chase. Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union
SOUTH WHITLEY – Whitko pushed past the press to pull out the win Friday.

The Whitko boys basketball team overcame a first-half deficit to go on a long third-quarter run, and clung to its lead in the fourth for a 77-75 Three Rivers Conference victory over Southwood.

“We’re a lot better than what we played,” said Whitko coach Eli Henson. “But, that’s two straight games I’ve (said that) and two straight games we’ve found a way to win, so I can’t complain too much.”

Whitko (5-7, 2-1 TRC) committed 11 turnovers and trailed 37-32 at halftime.

“We were sloppy with the ball, and we knew what pressure they were gonna bring,” Henson said. “We would draw stuff up, and guys were in the wrong spots a lot.”

The Wildcats were down 41-37 when a Spencer Sroufe bucket prompted an 18-3 run to finish the third quarter.

“The crazy thing is, before Christmas break we were not a third-quarter team,” Henson said. “We go to the Plymouth Tournament, we became a third-quarter team.”

Facing a 12-point deficit to start the fourth, Southwood put the heat on Whitko with a full-court press.

The Knights’ pressure was effective, causing several turnovers that allowed them to cut Whitko’s lead to three midway through the fourth.

“We made their press a lot more difficult than what it needed to be,” Henson said.

William Rickerd pulled off a six-point run for the Wildcats, hitting a bucket, sinking two free throws, and scoring another basket to stretch his team’s lead to nine.

Bolstered by four points from Carson Rich, Southwood responded with a 10-3 run that cut the Wildcats’ lead to two at 72-70.

By that point, though, there was less than a minute remaining, and Southwood resorted to fouling to stop the clock.

Whitko’s Drake Lewis hit two free throws, which were answered by another Rich bucket.

Another foul sent Lewis to the line again, where he made 1 of 2 to put the score a 75-72.

The Wildcats fouled quickly to keep Southwood from hitting a trey, and Rich hit both free throws to cut the lead to one.

However, Lewis was fouled and hit his last two free throws for the three-point lead.

“Drake really stepped up late in the game at the foul line for us, so that was good to see,” Henson said.

Whitko again fouled quickly, sending Rich to the line. He made the first free throw before intentionally missing the second, but Whitko came away with the rebound.

Sroufe was fouled with one-tenth of a second left, but by then the game had already been decided.

“We took Southwood really seriously this year since they went to state last year,” Sroufe said. “Them coming in here, we wanted to shut them down and defend our home floor.”

He finished with team-highs of 25 points and 20 rebounds, while his teammate Brett Sickafoose scored 23 points and pulled down six boards.

Dallas Holmes overcame an illness to score a game-high 35 points for the Knights (3-9, 1-3 TRC).

“He probably needs to do that again,” said Southwood coach John Burrus. “He was really effective.”

Rich finished with 26 points.

Henson was pleased with the win, but said the Wildcats have more work to do before they host Northfield Friday in a TRC matchup.

“I told them, ‘celebrate the win, but know on Monday we gotta work on what we gotta get better at,’” Henson said.



S    20    17    7    31    –    75

W    19    13    24    21    –    77

Southwood – Gabe Lloyd 0-6 0-2 0, Dallas Holmes 14-24 1-1 35, Carson Rich 9-20 8-9 26, Jackson Simons 3-11 1-2 7, Luke Winer 2-2 0-0 4, Braden Barney 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Farr 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 28-63 10-14 75.

Whitko – Brett Sickafoose 7-10 6-7 23, Clayton Ebbinghouse 2-5 0-0 6, Drake Lewis 2-6 3-4 7, Micah Cokl 0-0 0-0 0, Spencer Sroufe 10-17 3-6 25, Devin Blaine 1-3 0-0 2, William Rickerd 4-7 2-2 10, Totals 26-48 14-19 77.

Three-pointers – Southwood 6 (Holmes 6), Whitko 7 (Sickafoose 3, Sroufe 2, Ebbinghouse 2); Rebounding – Southwood 20 (Holmes 8), Whitko 35 (Sroufe 20); Turnovers – Southwood 6, Whitko 18; Fouls – Southwood 20, Whitko 12; Fouled out – Lloyd, Holmes; Records: Southwood 3-9, 1-3 TRC; Whitko 5-7, 2-1 TRC