For 24 minutes on Thursday night, the Glenwood boys basketball team waited.
It held the lead against Lee-Scott for nearly the entire first three quarters, but it never pulled so far out in front that its opponent was out of the game.
Like their nickname, though, the Gators circled their prey, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. That moment came during the first two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Gators pressed, they forced turnovers and they scored points.
Eighteen of them. In a row. In one minute, 55 seconds.
Suddenly a manageable 57-48 lead was 75-48 and it was all over but the crying. Glenwood beat its rival, Lee-Scott, 85-58 on Thursday at home, improving its record to 22-2 and maintaining its perfect area record (4-0).
In the win, the team showed the killer instinct and team mentality that has been its personality all season long.
“We pressed (Lee-Scott) early last time and ran out of gas,” coach Dusty Perdue said after the game. “We weren’t going to do that this time. We waited for the right moment and took it. We like to put our foot on the gas. When we get them down, we want to keep them down.”
The team starts four seniors, including Alex Hicks who has already signed a scholarship to play at Western Carolina. Hicks had 28 points on Thursday, 11 of which came in the fourth quarter.
“Coach said we needed to play better defense, so that was a focus,” Hicks said of the team’s air-tight attack to open the fourth quarter, an attack that prevented Lee-Scott from even reaching half court until it got fouled and shot free throws just inside of six minutes left. “We work on it every day in practice.”
That’s the kind of mentality the coach has come to expect of his team, particularly those four, over the course of the season. It’s a mentality he’d like to see continue to improve as the regular season begins to shift to the postseason over the next couple of weeks.
The Gators will be the top seed on their half of the bracket. Lee-Scott will have a tougher road to the area finals. The teams could, however, meet two more times this season.
“You never want to lose, but you almost want to just to keep that red blood out there,” Perdue said. “You want your guys to be like sharks, always on the attack. You never want them thinking it’s easy, because it’s not.”
Easy or not, the team has plenty of potential down the stretch. Hicks, in true athlete fashion, said that wasn’t this team’s concentration, though.
“We’re just trying to win our next game,” he said. “One at a time.”
Glenwood School as a whole has plenty to look forward to in winter sports. The girls basketball team is, of course, no slouch itself. On the contrary, it has only lost one game, sporting an 18-1 record, 4-0 in the region, after a 50-38 win over the Lee-Scott girls Thursday.
Coach Julie Humphries was far from satisfied with her team’s performance, though, another trait indicative of the killer instinct.
“It got too close,” she said. “We’re not comfortable. We’re not satisfied.”
She’s right, of course. Thursday’s game transformed from a blowout into a dogfight late in the contest. Lee-Scott cut the lead to eight points at one point before Elizabeth Perdue knocked down a three-pointer to put a lid on the comeback bid.
Still, to get where her team is trying to get, Humphries expects more out of her Lady Gators. A lot more.
“We have to continue to work,” she said. “We weren’t pleased giving up that many points.”
They only gave up 38, so expectations are clearly high for the stretch run this season.
Thursday at Glenwood
Lee-Scott 9 15 24 10—58
Glenwood 15 19 23 28—85
Thomas Harden 19, Chase Aldridge 15, Cason Sibley 10, Joseph 5, Harper 4, Klein 3, Braswell 2.
Alex Hicks 28, Ant Holtzclaw 17, J.T. Thomas 13, Trip Day 13, Tanner Thomason 10, Melton 3, Vahjen 1.
Record: Glenwood, 22-2, 4-0. Next: Glenwood, Saturday vs. Crenshaw at home.
Thursday at Glenwood
Lee-Scott 3 7 19 9—38
Glenwood 10 14 17 9—50
Lauren Williams 13, Madison Prewett 12, Silseth 9, Joseph 3, Tucker 1.
Tamara York 17, Elizabeth Perdue 15, Emily Robertson 14, Bell 2, McClain 2.
Record: Glenwood, 18-1, 4-0. Next: Glenwood, Saturday vs. Crenshaw at home.