When the Warriors defense needed to play its best, they did, avoiding a scary finish on Halloween night.
Holding the visiting Mount Marty Lancers to just two free throws in the final 3 ½ minutes, the Warriors went on a 12-2 finishing charge that secured win No. 1 of the season for the Waldorf men’s basketball team, 74-69, at the Hanson Fieldhouse on Wednesday night.
“We talk about that a lot in practice, playing defense, having the mindset that we have to defend, we have to rebound the ball and we let whatever happens, happen,” Waldorf head coach Nigel Jenkins said.
The Warrior defense made a steal and held Mount Marty to 0-of-7 shooting during the victorious finishing run, which erased a 67-62 deficit.
A pair of Demitrius Martin free throws started the charge, then Brian Smith added a bucket that got the Warriors (1-1 overall) within a point.
Then a Martin steal led to another Smith bucket, which truly ignited a charge that built momentum with a Gabriel Munoz basket, then a Brady Kuchinka layup with 40 seconds left that put Waldorf on top, 72-67.
From there, both teams traded free throws as the Warriors gutted out a hard-fought first victory in a game that saw 10 lead-changes in the second half.
One of those lead changes came early in the second half, after the Lancers (0-3) grabbed a 36-34 advantage on back-to-back buckets out of the break.
Looking for a spark for his team, Jenkins sent in Demitrius and Melvin Martin, Harlan Coats Jr, Quincy Minor Jr, and Octavius O’Large to re-ignite the Warriors, and a pair of free throws by Demitrius and a basket by Minor Jr., did just that.
“They came in and provided a ton of energy, brought some life into the gym,” Jenkins said. “Our crowd got loud and we kind of fed off that and kind of got back in the ballgame.”
Battling out to a lead of 50-44 on a Kuchinka bucket, and fighting back after trailing 58-50 with 7 ½ minutes to play, eventually earning the victory with a stout defensive stand.
Demitrius Martin led the way for Waldorf with 21 points in the win, while Kuchinka added 19 points and four assists, and Smith scored 10 for the Warriors, who next play 23rd-ranked Bethel on Friday at the Holiday Inn Express Tip-Off Classic hosted by Clarke University.