Nick Witherill will eventually learn there is no hesitation in basketball. After all, Witherill is just a sophomore at Saguaro High School.
The left-handed guard had to be told to shoot the basketball more by coach Bob LaRue in the second half and the result produced a victory for the Sabercats.
Witherill scored 17 of his game high 23 points in the second half to lead Saguaro to 48-45 win over Paradise Valley Tuesday in the first round of the McClintock Holiday Shootout. It is the Sabercats’ first victory over a 5A school this season.
"I don’t know why he was hesitating,’’ LaRue said. "I guess he didn’t think he was open, but he was. Thankfully, he started shooting.’’
Paradise Valley (10-4) led, 28-20, at the half thanks to a 15-3 scoring run over the final 5:30 of the first half. A halfcourt trap defense by the Trojans tormented the Sabercats (9-4) as they tried to put the ball in the basket.
"We weren’t very patient in the first half,’’ Witherill said.
That all changed in the second half. With 14 minutes to play, Paradise Valley led 30-22. Witherill, who leads the Sabercats in scoring at over 19 points per game, then went to work scoring 10-straight points for Saguaro. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Witherill tied the score at 32 with 11:45 to play.
"I hit a couple of shots and that gave me a little more confidence,’’ Witherill said.
A 3-point play by Matt Rhodes at the 9:09 mark gave Saguaro a 37-36 lead, its first advantage since early in the first half. Rhodes finished the game with 18 points
With 1:48 left Paradise Valley cut the lead to 47-45 with a free throw by Alex English. The Trojans had a chance to tie the score with 22 seconds left, but Chris Bonham’s shot wouldn’t fall.
A free throw by Witherill gave the Sabercats a 3-point lead with seven seconds left. Saguaro guard Dominick Ruth had stolen the basketball from Paradise Valley to give his team the ball and Witherill a chance to seal the victory with the free throws.
But Witherill missed the second shot giving the Trojans one last chance.
Chris McFaul’s 3-pointer at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
Ricky Berry led Paradise Valley with 17 points.