The Quince Orchard boys’ basketball team split their season-opening games last week, dropping their debut at home to Walter Johnson, 69-64, but rebounding on the road on Friday night to earn a hard-fought victory over Whitman, 54-47.
Friday’s victory was a big one for a young team with one sophomore and the rest juniors, and it gives them something to build on for the remainder of the season. They played tough defense and moved the ball well against Whitman.
“Played a real solid team and found out if we play together, we have a great chance to win,” said QO coach Paul Foringer.
The Cougars fell behind early against Whitman, down by as much as nine, but clawed back to within one point behind Jeremiah Littlejohn’s hot hand. They were up four at the half and by seven after three quarters.
Whitman, however, fought back to tie in the fourth period. But QO took control in the final two minutes and widened their lead down the stretch on free throws.
“The fourth quarter was filled with battles,” Foringer said. “We won more than they did, so we won the war.”
Teddy Kelly scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, including three three-pointers. Alex Parisotto also had 15 and Littlejohn added 13.
Against WJ the Cougars also held the lead after one quarter. But poor shooting and defensive lapses plagued them in the second, and they were down 34-27 at halftime.
“Too much individualism,” said Foringer. “First quarter I thought we did a nice job of playing together. Second quarter was all a bunch of guys doing their thing.”
He added: “We had no free throws in the first half because all we did was shoot threes from outside. We’re not big enough to do that. We have no rebounding, and we pretty much shot ourselves right out of the game in the first half.”
The Cougars picked up their intensity in the third quarter behind Amir Gray, but their shooting woes continued. WJ, meanwhile, found success from long range and took an 11-point lead into the final quarter. The lead ballooned to 64-48 with just under four minutes left when Foringer called time out.
“Let’s get something out of this game to build on,” the coach told his team. “Let’s win the last four minutes. Let’s go out and play intense defense like we know how to play it, let’s have each other’s back and take charges.”
And they did. They used tight defense to force turnovers, drove to the basket, and got to the foul line to chip away at the lead. A drive by Parisotto, two free throws by Cole Allemong, a layup by Gray, and a putback by Littlejohn and suddenly QO was down by six with 14 seconds left. But Whitman scored, and Kelly’s long three at the end made the final 69-64.
“They came back, they fought hard, and they listened in the last four minutes,” Foringer said. And they carried that into the Whitman game. Parisotto led QO against WJ with 18 points. Littlejohn had 12 and Gray had 11.
Asked how he expected his young team to do this season, Foringer said, “If they stop being individuals and they play together as a team, they’re going to be good. But we can’t do it for moments and minutes. We have to do it for games.”