Simply put, this was a game where maturity in bulk ended up making the difference.
A game that saw plenty of different levels of pace and numerous changes in tactics, a veteran Waller basketball team had the edge in experience and physical strength and that paid dividends in its 67-55 Patriot Invitational quarterfinal win over the host Goose Creek Memorial Patriots Friday night.
GCM (3-3) trailed 44-42 to start the fourth quarter of a game that was full of pace until Waller decided to change things up and slow the game down which seemed to discombobulate the younger Patriots.
“I don’t think we came out with the necessary focus and effort we needed to,” GCM head coach Marcus Ebow said. “We had about four or five turnovers and the start of the game and we were outhustled. We lost a lot of 50-50 balls, we gave up a lot of offensive rebounds and just didn’t look in sync. We weren’t able to apply the pressure we needed to turn our defense into offense.”
Sam Bradford led GCM with 12 points while Malik Mustafaa added nine points and T.J. Bolds added eight points.
As GCM saw a close game get away, it appeared to lose sight on the tempo changes Waller instilled to throw the Patriots’ flow off and the hosts got caught in a lot of individual play.
“We didn’t use our teammates like when we won games,” Ebow said. “We were getting shots in the paint, but we didn’t shoot it from outside very well and we didn’t shoot it much from the free throw line in the second half.
“The game got physical and we didn’t match their physicality.”
The tempo changes played to Waller’s advantage and they were able to get a number of free throws – missing only one – to pull away late.
“Their zone shook us up a little bit and made us think a little bit and got us out of rhythm,” Ebow said. “That’s been an issue for us in getting better looks against the zone.
“We want to learn and win and not learn and lose and tonight we learned but took a loss with it. That’s what we are doing with a young team and are learning on the fly.
“We could say we had a four-point lead at halftime, but in all actuality, if we played the way we are supposed to, we should have had a double-digit lead. We had 15 turnovers had halftime. Waller played like they wanted it more.”