Boys basketball coach Ryan Wagner told his assistant coach during Tuesday’s game against Woodward that win or lose he was going to be proud of his team’s effort. Thanks to some clutch plays by the Wildcats and a last second shot by Woodward that was off the mark, Wagner was able to also be proud of a win.
“It’s a huge win because we have been struggling, I’m not going to lie,” Wagner said. “We have had some personality issues but they battled together. I was going to be very proud of them no matter what happened because we stuck to our guns.”
The lead changed four times in the final quarter but Piedmont relied on a suffocating defense, good rebounding and clutch shots from Christian Foster to beat Woodward, 46-44.
Foster scored 10 of his 18 points in the final quarter. His first fourth quarter basket came from a free throw that tied the game at 35-35. Foster’s second free throw shot clanked off the rim but he was able to battle for his own rebound and put up a layup to give his team a two-point lead.
Woodward grabbed a three-point lead with less than two minutes left but Cameron Peters hit a jumper to pull Piedmont back within one. On the next Woodward possession Foster came up with a steal and scored the go-ahead basket on a fastbreak.
“That’s a good team we played but we just worked our butts off at the end,” Foster said. “I am someone who wants the ball but I also want to give my teammates the ball; but I had an opportunity to make big plays.”
The game came down to the wire at the end but in the first quarter it looked as if Piedmont would be on its way to an easy win. The Wildcats jumped to an 11-0 lead and didn’t let Woodward on the scoreboard until 2:15 left in the first quarter. However, Woodward stormed back with a 12-0 run of its own and led by two at halftime. After the game, Wagner said the comeback by Woodward was expected and that his players knew they would have to battle all night.
“We knew that Woodward would do that,” Wagner said. “(After their comeback) we told the kids to stay the course and stay focused and stay determined.”
Piedmont’s (4-3) win kept them above the .500 mark headed into a critical week of state rankings and was the final game before the Christmas break.