Story by Jon Dinan
January 22 With 20 seconds left to play in regulation, Tuxedo point guard Mike Heslin hit two huge free throws to put his team up 39-36 over the host Eldred Yellowjackets in last Friday night’s non-league game.
He then stole the ensuing inbounds pass and Eldred was forced to foul him with 10 seconds on the clock. Heslin made both foul shots to clinch the 41-36 comeback victory. Eldred led by as many as 15 points midway through the second quarter.
“I thought we played tough tonight,” said coach J.J. Gass. “We played great for three quarters, but we didn’t come out and shoot well in the fourth. Tuxedo, on the other hand, came out and did a good job making shots and getting big rebounds. It was a fight to the end, and I’m proud of the way we played, but it came down to who was able to make shots in the fourth quarter.”
Although Eldred was clearly outsized by Tuxedo, they took it to the Tornadeos early on jumping out to a 22-7 lead with 3:38 to play in the second quarter. Point guard Bray Curreri scored the first six points of the game for the Yellowjackets.
From there Eldred began to skid, paving the way for a 10-0 Tuxedo run capped off by a last second tip-in by forward Freddie Squires at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, the Tornadoes continued to chip away and closed the deficit to one point, 28-27.
Curreri breifly halted the visitor’s momentum with back-to-back steals which led to fast break buckets, a lay-up and a three-pointer putting Eldred back up by six at 33-27.
Heslin then began to heat up. With five minutes left to play Heslin hit a big three to pull Tuxedo within three at 33-30. Tuxedo would go on to take a 36-33 lead with three minutes left in regulation when center Blayke Tisdale drained a short jumper.
Curreri tried valiantly to keep his team in it as he connected on a clutch three-pointer to bring his team back within a point of the lead with just over a minute left in the ballgame.
But unfortunately for the home team, Heslin shut the door on Eldred by making a few crucial heads-up plays, and pressure-filled free-throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.
“I thought our defense played awesome,” said Currieri. “Our rebounding was very aggressive compared to past games which led to a lot of fast break points, but our open shots from the outside just weren’t falling. That was our biggest problem. It was just an off night.”
With the loss Eldred slipped to 2-9 overall and remain 2-2 in league play. Tuxedo improved to 3-7.