Indians outlast Leopards
in backyard battle
By John Bassetti
Junior Korri Maynard’s bounce pass to John Norman for an insurance layup as time ran out was the key play in the crucial closing seconds, but Craig Randall’s 35 points throughout the 32-minute game can’t be discounted in Girard’s 64-60 win over Liberty in an All-American Conference National Division thriller.
The four-player sequence — starting with Randall, who in-bounded to Evan Standohar, who got it to Maynard, who spotted Norman — was the collective nail in the coffin in the final 11 seconds.
With Girard (3-3, 1-1) ahead, 62-60, first-year coach Craig Hannon said that the primary objective was not to blow the opportunity.
“We just wanted to get the ball in bounds,” Hannon said of having Randall, a sophomore, as the initiator. “With no timeouts, we didn’t want to get a 5-count [call]. Otherwise, we have some really good free-throw shooters, so it’s not like we needed to get it to one specific guy. We just wanted to spread them out and give us some room and it ended up being a layup.”
Hannon acknowledged the role of those who supported Randall’s majority offensive output.
“Maynard made a great pass and John Norman, who doesn’t take many shots, collected himself and threw one in,” Hannon said of the combination. “So we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
The basket represented Norman’s only points of the night.
“It just happened that we did a good job of getting it up the floor and a great job getting it down the court,” said the 6-1 senior.
“Maynard shot a bounce pass but I was ready for it. I was alone so I knew it was coming.”
Evan Standohar managed 17 rebounds from his 5-11 height, especially when Liberty’s 6-5 D.J. Hight was dominant, otherwise.
“His play up to this point has been fantastic,” Hannon said.
“When I was younger, I learned to be a competitor because it doesn’t matter what size you are,” said Standohar, known for his golf game. “Charles Barkley was probably one of the smallest guys in the NBA going against 6-11, 7-foot guys. It’s all about heart and desire and who wants it. In every game, not just tonight, I want every rebound to help the team out.”
Hight finished with a team-high 25 points and he had 12 of Liberty’s 39. Darrien Underwood added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Leopards (4-3, 1-1).
Randall was responsible for getting Girard off to a 21-4 start and Liberty never caught up until taking a 50-49 lead in the final five minutes.
Randall, who said the win is a great Christmas present for the Indians, didn’t glorify his personal performance.
“I just come out to help my team and we play together.”
His early scoring cooled off midway through the first quarter, but Girard kept the upper hand.
“When they started coming at me, my teammates started opening up and helping.”
Liberty coach Dan Bubon said that he has to do a better job of getting his players to understand their strength.
“Our strength was inside,” he said. “I thought I did a good job of preparing us to get inside, but, obviously, I didn’t because, in the first quarter, we didn’t [get inside]. Once we did that, we played a lot better, but it’s hard to dig a hole like that. Once you do that, the best you’re going to be is in a close game at the end.
“We made a nice comeback, but, when down by 1 with 30 seconds to go, but a really good shot to tie it bounced around and came out,” Bubon said of trailing 61-60. “Plus, they [Girard] made a lot of foul shots [19-27] and we didn’t [13-27].”