Rippee free throw lifts Tigers past McQueen
During a mock free throw shooting drill Monday night, the Douglas High School boys basketball team won every one of its games against McQueen.
One night later, the Tigers beat McQueen for real when Luke Rippee rolled in the second of two free throws with 3.1 seconds left for the go-ahead point in a 50-49 victory.
Andy McIntosh came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points and give Douglas (2-4) a spark against the Lancers, who only had seven players in uniform and only four on the floor for the final three seconds
Nevertheless, coach Keith Lewis called the win an important one for the Tigers, who snapped a four-game losing streak. It was also important considering the Tigers had led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter and by six points with 2:31 left to play.
“We don’t care. We needed a win and we’ll take a win, no matter how we get it,” Lewis said. “That’s a huge victory. We’re struggling a little bit, too, so it could have been a situation where, if they had pulled that out there at the end, we would have really been left scratching our heads.”
Douglas only shot 8-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and 15-for-25 overall, but perhaps that drill on Monday did pay off after all.
“We did a free throw shooting drill with them and for every made shot, they got a point, and for every miss, McQueen got two points. And then every time somebody was at the winning point, we’d say ‘Game winner,’ and everyone would have to stop and watch the kid shoot the game-winner,” Lewis said. “We didn’t miss any game-winners last night, so during that time-out, I told the kids, ‘We didn’t miss any game-winners last night and we’re not going to lose one tonight, and Luke stepped up and made the shot when he had to. I don’t know how he got it over the rim, but it went over and that’s all that matters.”
Rippee’s first shot missed, then after a McQueen time-out, his second shot hit the front of the rim and then trickled in for the point. The junior guard was obviously nervous after missing four of his previous seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
“I couldn’t get any of the first couple in, I had to make that last one,” said Rippee, who finished with eight points. “That was probably the worst stroke of all of them, but that one went in, so I got lucky. We haven’t been very lucky in the last four games we’ve played, so I guess we deserved some luck.”
The Tigers trailed 10-8 at the end of the first quarter, but scored nine unanswered points at the start of the second to take a lead they held until the final seconds.
“Andy came off the bench and was huge tonight,” Lewis said of McIntosh, who scored seven points in the second period. “I thought he really got us a spark in the second quarter. He played outstanding on both ends of the floor.”
Rippee converted a steal into a layup to break a 10-10 tie. McIntosh sank one free throw and then scored on a follow shot. Then Rippee stole the ball again and fed a downcourt pass to McIntosh for a layup to give Douglas a 17-10 lead when McQueen coach Pat Condon called for a time-out with 5:36 left in the period.
Douglas also scored 10 unanswered points — Rippee had three assists during the run — to extend a 28-26 lead to 36-26 with 3:21 left in the third quarter.
“In the third quarter, we had a chance to extend the lead, but I thought we went pretty flat defensively,” Lewis said. “I thought we really got back on our heels and let them be the aggressor. We just need to be more consistent and that’s going to come with experience.”
McQueen had seven players from its state championship football team sitting on the bench — they didn’t have enough basketball practices to play in the game — but the Lancers didn’t fade down the stretch.
James Morse knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the Douglas lead to 44-42 and then he hit another 3 from the top of the key to tie the score at 49 with 27.9 seconds showing on the clock. Morse was fouled on the latter shot, his free throw for the go-ahead point glanced off the rim and was rebounded teammate Zack Hicks.
Hicks, who led all scorers with 20 points, missed his inside shot and Nick Summers came down with the rebound for Douglas. The outlet pass went to Rippee, who drove down the floor and was fouled inside the key to set up the game-winner.
Eric Emm also scored eight points and Summers seven for the Tigers.
“It’s McQueen, so you kind of get pumped up for that,” Rippee said. “They have a good basketball team and we wanted to come out in front of the home crowd and play well. We kind of faded away at the end, but it was a win, so we’re happy.”