FAIRFIELD — Under pressure – and a whole lot of noise – Roddrick Douglas came through.
With the Indian faithful cheering loudly and stomping their feet, Douglas sank a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds to play top give the Will C. Wood High boys basketball team a 53-52 Monticello Empire League victory over Armijo at E. Gary Vaughn Gymnasium, Tuesday night.
Armijo’s Victor Caldwell had a decent look for a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, but was just off the mark.
The Wildcats’ win thwarted a fourth-quarter comeback by Armijo (2-14, 0-2 MEL), which was down by as many as nine late in the period.
“With Armijo, it doesn’t matter. They always play us tough,” Wood coach Mark Wudel said. “We always struggle with their defense. They made a great comeback and got back into it. It looked like we kind of blew the game there, but they did everything they needed to do.
“We got lucky at the end. We had a good shot, missed it, and got the rebound, got fouled and he hit both free throws.”
The Indians trailed 38-29 with just under three minutes to play in the third, but never gave up. They chipped away, cutting the lead to 42-36 at the end of the period, helped by two long 3-pointers by Tyree Carrie.
In the fourth, Armijo kept chipping away, closing to within three points several times, the last at 49-46 with 3 minutes, 33 seconds to play.
An Indians free throw made the score 49-47, but Wood’s Darius Washington responded with a bucket in the lane with 2:39 to go to make the lead four.
But Armijo wasn’t done as Jordan Allen put back a missed shot to cut the lead to two and after the Wildcats turned the ball over, Carrie was at it again, hitting his sixth 3-pointer of the night to give his team a 52-51 advantage at the 1:39 mark.
“He’s our best player, everybody knows that,” Indians coach Carly Perales said of Carrie. “He’s going to take and make big shots, and tonight he was able to do that.”
The Indians’ defense shut down Wood until Douglas made the game-winning free throws.
Even after the loss, Perales was pleased with his team’s effort.
“It was good,” Perales said of the comeback. “I think that’s why I’m extremely proud of our guys tonight, because we did hang in there. We talked about giving ourselves a chance to win the game and we did that tonight. We just came up one point short.”
Another good thing the Armijo did was keep Wood’s 6-foot-7 Cameron Moore in check. He finished with just seven points and seven rebounds.
“We had trouble getting him the ball,” Wudel said, “We have to find ways to be able to get him the ball.”
Perales liked his team’s effort against the big man, but Wood still had too many opportunities in the paint.
“We were making them extend with good ball pressure,” Perales said of defending Moore. “They were able to make some adjustments in the second half and get some things in the paint, even though it was coming from him.
“They were getting some good looks, and it also allowed them to get the offensive rebounds. And ultimately, that’s what cost us there on that last play. We gave up an offensive rebound and allowed them to get to the free throw line and win the game.”
The Wildcats’ Darius Washington led all scorers with 25 points, while Douglas finished with 10.
Carrie wound up with 21 points to pace the Indians, with Caldwell scoring 11 and Bryce Lumpkins 10.
Armijo ran away in the JV game, routing the Wildcats 66-36. Dae’Rion Spencer led the Indians with 13 points and Jaylin Shepard added 10.
Wellington Balsley led Wood with eight points and Tim Stevens finished with six.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.