Still, there was some sadness. After all, the loss brought to an end two eras for the ’Cats as coach Greg Morgan and senior Caleb Schillace walked off the court for the final time.
“It’s not about me or mine,” said Morgan, who is stepping down after 18 seasons on the job. “It’s about their last game. Every year it’s the last game the seniors get to play and the last game of their career.
That’s my focus right now and I feel sorry for them. I thought they left their effort out there and played with intensity.
“I just feel for those guys and I’m not really thinking about my end of it.”
“(Morgan) is one of the best coaches I have ever had,” said Schillace, a four-year starter who was playing just his second game since undergoing an emergency appendectomy Feb. 20. “He believed in us and pushed us to be the best we could be. He made us show it every day in practice. If we didn’t show heart or dedication he would let us know about. That’s something we can take with us the rest of our lives.
“I wish we would have had a few more opportunities together.”
For much of the game and especially in the third quarter, it looked like Keystone (16-6) would have at least another game in them.
With the scored tied at 22 at the start of the second half, the Wildcats jumped all over Norwayne. A pair Brandyn Sittinger 3-pointers sandwiched an Adam Hopkins bucket as the Wildcats started the half with an 8-0 run. But the Bobcats (18-4) stopped the run when Brady Berger spilt a pair of free throws with 4:38 left in the quarter.
Norwayne pulled to within 32-28 on a Nate Davis basket but Keystone answered the challenge in a big way. A Jacob Kolar 3-pointer and Brandon Osborn basket pushed the Wildcats’ lead to 37-28 with 2:39 remaining and elicited a chant of “Overrated” from the Keystone student body.
Instead of responding vocally, the Bobcats let their play do the talking.
A Berger 3-pointer, his second of the quarter, started a 9-2 run that cut the Keystone lead to 39-37 entering the fourth quarter. Norwayne’s Kaleb Harris, who picked up his third foul in the third quarter, picked up the pace in the fourth.
Harris scored the first three points of the fourth quarter to give Norwayne a 40-39 lead, its first since it was 21-20 with 2:01 left in the first half. Keystone led 43-42 following a pair of Schillace free throws, but Harris continued his assault with a 3-pointer to put Norwayne up 45-43. A Keystone miss resulted in C.J. Conrad picking up his fourth foul at the other end and Harris sinking both free throws for a 47-43 Bobcats lead.
“We told the kids it was far from over when we were down 37-28,” Norwayne coach Brian West said. “We picked up our defensive effort and made a nice charge at the end of the third quarter. The defense continued to play well in the fourth quarter and Kaleb came alive for us.”
Norwayne led 55-47 with 1:01 when Keystone made one last charge behind Sittinger. Three free throws and his fourth 3-pointer of the game helped Keystone cut the lead to 57-53 with 40 seconds remaining.
But Bryce Maxwell scored five straight points for Norwayne to end the Keystone threat and put Norwayne up 61-53.
“I thought (Norwayne) played with a lot more energy than they have been,” Morgan said. “The end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth was a big moment for them. It changed the course of the game.”
Sittinger led Keystone with 15 points while Schillace, Conrad, Hopkins and Kolar all finished with eight.
Contact Hans Schneider at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norwayne 63, Keystone 56
KEYSTONE (56): Brandyn Sittinger 4-3-15, Caleb Schillace 2-4-8, CJ Conrad 4-0-8, Adam Hopkins 4-0-8, Jacob Kolar 2-2-8, Brandon Osborne 2-1-5, Chase Robinson 2-0-4. Totals 20-10-56.
NORWAYNE (63): Bryce Maxwell 6-6-20, Kaleb Harris 5-3-14, Brady Berger 3-5-13, Nate Davis 1-5-7, Adam Wallace 1-2-4, Derek Fry 1-1-3, Jon Maibach 1-0-2. Totals 18-22-63.
Keystone 10 12 17 17 — 56
Norwayne 10 12 15 26 — 63
Three-point goals: Keystone 6 (Sittinger 4, Kolar), Norwayne 5 (Berger 2, Maxwell 2, Harris). Field goals: Keystone 20-38 (53 percent), Norwayne 18-35 (51 percent). Free throws: Keystone 10-15 (67 percent), Norwayne 22-31 (71 percent). Rebounds: Keystone 16 (Schillace 7), Norwayne 22 (Wallace 6). Turnovers: Keystone 19, Norwayne 9. Total fouls: Keystone 19, Norwayne 11. Technical foul: Keystone bench, Norwayne bench. Fouled out: Conrad.