(Dec. 21, 2012) Trailing by five points late in the game Monday, the Worcester Prep boys’ basketball team chipped away at Central Christian School’s lead before pulling ahead in the final seconds for a 49-45 victory.
The visiting team from Dover had a 12-8 advantage with about 50 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Junior Ryan Nally fired a three-point shot that went in the basket at the buzzer to cut the lead to one.
Nally was fouled in the first minute of the second quarter and sank both free throws. Seconds later, junior Matt Reilly was fouled and he also hit both shots to put Worcester on top 15-12. Reilly’s jump shot fell two minutes later to give the Mallards a 17-12 lead.
Points were traded over the next few minutes and at the 1:50 mark, senior Harrison Brennan nailed a three-pointer to boost the Prep squad’s advantage to 24-19. The Mallards went into the halftime break ahead 24-22.
“I thought we played well during the first half, maybe better than the score would indicate,” said Worcester Coach Keith Geiger. “We missed a few put-backs, lay-ups and other open shots, so I think we could have been up by more.”
At halftime, Geiger said, “I emphasized remaining positive and confident. I also went over a few of Central Christian’s offensive plays and what I wanted them to do in order to break up the plays.”
Central Christian went on a six-point run in the third quarter to take the lead, 28-24, but Brennan scored and followed up with two free throws to tie the game, 28-all.
The visiting team tallied seven of the next nine points to pull in front 35-30. With one quarter to play, the home squad trailed 37-33.
Reilly scored about two minutes into the final quarter and seconds later, Nally stole the ball and was fouled while shooting. He hit both free throws to tie the game at 37.
Central Christian then went on a 6-2 run to lead 43-39 with 2:50 left to play.
Reilly made two free throws, but Central Christian answered with a lay-up.
Senior Zander Farr scored, then junior Jack Marshall blocked a Central Christian shot, which led to a Worcester fast break. Nally hit a three-pointer to give the Prep team a 46-45 advantage with 1:30 on the clock.
Brennan sank two free throws and Marshall scored one in the final seconds to secure the victory.
“I think we started to slack off on defense a little bit, didn’t talk, didn’t help each other and rotate, and Central got a few easy lay-ups. They ran a very good, very tight offense with several very good plays,” Geiger said.
The Mallards’ defensive play was fantastic in the final minutes and it resulted in the team winning the game, he said.
“With about [three] minutes to go in the fourth quarter, we were down by five and we really stepped up our defense. When we play excellent defense, it translates to our offense because we are so good in transition,” he said.
Nally was the Mallards’ top producer with 17 points, four assists and five steals. Reilly had 12 points and eight rebounds, and Farr chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds.
Worcester is 7-0 going into the two-week Christmas break.
“I think we can certainly improve, but I am very happy with our team. The players have embraced our style and philosophy, and it’s been a great start,” Geiger said. “We are looking forward to playing some of the conference games against Salisbury School and Delmarva Christian. They should be really good games.”
The team plans to practice throughout the vacation, though not all players will be able to make every session because of family trips. The students will return to school Thursday, Jan. 3, and the Mallards will host Delmarva Christian the next day at 5:30 p.m.