ERIAL – Rich Santos was giving up four inches and 45 pounds but it didn’t seem bother him. In fact, you might say he rose to the challenge.
Santos, a 6-foot, 2 inch, 195 pound Washington Township junior forward, drew Timber Creek’s Demetrious Paynter, a 6-6, 240 pound center, in the Minutemen’s man defense with the seconds ticking off the clock in overtime and Washington Township leading 51-47.
The Chargers worked the ball down low to Paynter who started to back his way to the basket, but Santos gave ground grudgingly. Paynter turned to the baseline and went up for a short jump shot, but Santos went up with him, blocked the shot, came down with the rebound and was fouled. He made his foul shots and Washington Township got a big overtime road win, 53-47, over the Chargers on opening night before a enthusiastic crowd.
Santos finished with nine points, but seven of them came in overtime. He plays defense, rebounds and he gets to the basket when his team needs it most. Like everyone on this Washington Township team, he has a role and he played it well Friday night.
“He started every game for us last year as a sophomore, “Washington Township coach Matt Kiser said in the corridor outside the victors’ locker room. “Even as a junior he is one of our leaders. He is not a big scorer, but he rebounds, he defends and when he does get a chance to go the basket, he can finish and he gets to the line.”
He had two buckets in the overtime Friday night, one off a nice pass from sophomore Drew Amos, who drove the lane, drew the defenders to him, then found Santos cutting to the basket and his layup put Washington Township up three points with under a minute left in overtime.
“I knew I had to step up,” said Santos who was also three for four from the foul line in overtime. “My team had been picking me the whole game. I think I was something like one for four before the overtime. When they passed the ball into the big man, I knew I could guard him and it felt good (to block the shot). Everyone on this team is a fighter. We all play hard and we all fight for each other.”
Amos, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, was playing in his first high school game. He had five points in the first half then scored the Minutemen’s first six points of the second half, keeping Washington Township in the game after Timber Creek opened up a five point lead early in the third quarter. He brought the ball up against the Chargers relentless press, and drove to the basket when the opportunity presented itself. He picked up confidence as the game went along.
“In the first half, I force the ball and made a couple of bad passes, and I kind of expected it being my first game with the crowd going crazy and playing a good team,” said Amos. “In the second half I think I settled down.”
It was a good start for the Minutemen, opening the season with a win on the road against a tough opponent and they accomplished it with strong performances from a junior who had been there before and a sophomore who was just getting his feet wet.
Washington Twp 53,
Timber Creek 47
WT 9 12 8 12 12 - 53
TC 12 8 14 7 6 - 47
WT – Roland 13, McCrae 2, Amos 11, Parker 4, Russell 14, Santos 9.
TC - Miller 7, Paynter 15, Benjamin 11, Montgomery 4, Alderman 8, Bergen 2.
Timber Creek had a six-point lead in the first quarter, but Washington Township outscored the Chargers 6-2 to end the quarter trailing 12-9. Asante Russell scored five of Washington Township’s first seven points to start the second quarter as the Minutemen took a 16-14 lead. At the half, it was the Minutemen leading 21-20. Russell led Washington Township with seven, while Demetrious led Timber Creek with seven.
With Paynter scoring two buckets inside and Sean Miller burying a couple of threes, Timber Creek opened up a seven point lead and led by five at the end of the third quarter, 34-29. Midway through the fourth quarter, Washington Township went on a seven-point run with Russell scoring five to take a 38-36 lead. Trailing by three late, Roland hit three foul shots to tie it, 41-41. Timber Creek had a chance to win at the end, but Miller missed a pair of free throws. Paynter was the difference in overtime, scoring seven of his nine points.
Winning it at the line: Washington Township finished 22 of 28 from the free throw line.
Timber Creek coach Richard Bolds: “We were up six or eight and we took a couple of quick shots. The tempo was crazy. We have to knock down those shots. We have to run our stuff and execute better offensively.”