Sometimes the difference between winning and losing involves a number of different factors. Sometimes it comes down to simple fundamentals.
Free throws were the difference Saturday for the Windsor Wizards as they edged Greeley West 49-44 in the Northern Colorado Classic.
Ahead 26-20 at the half, the Wizards never lost the lead for the rest of the game, despite being challenged by West many times in the fourth quarter. After senior Drew Bunday, hit a 3-pointer to put Windsor ahead by six, West’s Preston Marion answered with a 3 of his of his own to keep the Spartans in the game.
Greeley West wasn’t done hitting key shots from beyond the arc.
Down 40-37 with over just over three minutes remaining, freshman Cordell Gillingham hit perhaps the biggest shot of the game for the Spartans — a 3 from the wing to tie the game at 40.
Windsor didn’t lose confidence, though. Following a turnover by Greeley West, senior Drew Bunday capitalized on an offensive rebound to put the Wizards ahead 42-40 with just over two minutes to go.
On West’s following possession, the Spartans couldn’t tie the game, despite having three tip-in opportunities on the offensive end. The game was still close, however, and would be decided from the free-throw line.
That’s when Windsor pulled away. The Wizards were six of eight from the charity stripe in the final minute and a half of the game and 12 of 19 overall.
Windsor senior Drew Bunday believed hitting key free throws was the difference in the close win.
“When you knock those down, you have a better chance of taking a close game,” Bunday said.
His coach agreed.
“Viktor Kaiser stepped up and was two for two and Garrett Hammond was four for four,” Windsor coach Dustin Duncan said. “Those two stepped up and it was ultimately the game.”
While Greeley West suffered its first loss of the season, coach Tory Hanson said his team will be able to learn from the loss.
“We’ll bounce back. We’re a young team. At the end of the game we had three sophomores a freshman and a junior on the floor, but our team will battle,” Hanson said.
He also believes close games like the one against Windsor will help the team grow. He said the last four games have been close and playing under pressure will make his team stronger as the season progresses.
While Hanson is certain West will rebound from the loss, he knows what helped Windsor earn a victory also handed the Spartans their first loss.
He put it simply after the game.
“We miss our free throws in the end, they make theirs. That’s the difference in the game,” he said.
The Northern Colorado classic continues next week. Windsor (2-4, overall) will play Greeley Central. Greeley West (3-1 overall) will play Northridge. Both games are Wednesday.
WHS— Dalton Walker 17 points (13 in first half), Garrett Hammond 9 points, Victor Kaiser 4 points, David Watson 1 point, Drew Bunday 9 points, Kody Armann 3 points
GWHS— Darren De La Croix 10 points, Preston Marion 8 points (1 three pointer), Cordell Gillingham 7 points (1 three pointer), Alex Garcia 7 points, Edgar Lopez 5 points (1 three pointer) Ezequiel Perches 6 points, Connor Thompson 1 point