GLOUCESTER TWP. – Tim Schultice needed a new look.
The senior on the Timber Creek boys’ basketball team has spent better than a year growing a beard, one that began around the Super Bowl last January won by the Philadelphia Eagles. On a blustery Tuesday afternoon, Schultice headed to school clean shaven with the South Jersey Group 3 tournament set to begin for Timber Creek later that afternoon against Olympic Conference Patriot Division rival Winslow Township. On paper, the Creek (15-10) held the upper hand over the Eagles (7-18) whom they had beaten by 12 and 14 points earlier this month.
“(The wind) was a slap in the face,” Schultice said of his new look. “I just figured it was time. We knew tonight would be a big game and that even with those two wins we needed to be ready.”
Timber Creek, the fifth seed, overcame a 16-point deficit and then, after taking a lead in the third quarter, a nine-point deficit to beat upset-minded Winslow 58-57 to advance to the quarterfinal round. Next up for the Chargers will be a trip to No.4 Pinelands, which dispatched Woodrow Wilson 58-49 on Tuesday.
“They really should put these games on tv,” Creek head coach Rich Bolds said. “Don’t look at the early scores this year, we all knew this would be a close game. We told our kids that No.11 (Winslow’s Devon Murray) could shoot. Tonight, he shot the ball and it took everything we had to get the win.”
Murray, who hit six of his first seven three-point attempts finished the night with a game-high 23 points. Between the senior and his prowess from deep and junior point guard Hiram Jackson in a sixth-man role, Winslow had Timber Creek on its heels for much of the night. In fact, the Eagles held a 39-30 lead at half and a 57-49 lead with 2:45 left in the game.
To counter, Bolds looked for any energy he could find and, on this night, it came from the unsung Schultice who did all the little things right. With 13 points – second to Eric Benjamin’s 14 – and six rebounds he also took several charges in a game that had an abundance of a call that more often than not is called as blocking.
“Yeah I took two or three charges I think,” Schultice said. “We have to do everything and anything to advance. I like to think of myself as a player that would do anything for the team.”
Timber Creek picked up a break late in the game when it held a three-point lead as Winslow tried to work the clock. A blocking foul on an attempted pick gave the ball back to Timber Creek which scored and then, in a chaotic trip up court, a turnover led to a missed layup and a put back by Sean Miller for a one-point lead.
Winslow had a last second shot clang off the rim which set off a wild celebration by the home crowd.
“They were great,” Bolds said. “We needed them tonight. It’s been kind of sparse this year, but our kids came our fired up tonight and we needed it.”
More importantly they needed a senior, who after a close shave looked more like a freshman and the energy younger players bring to the court.
“We’ve challenged him to be that player he used to be before he grew,” Bolds said of 6-foot-4 senior. “He gave us the energy tonight.”
Timber Creek senior Tim Schultice gave the Chargers much needed energy on a night the freshly shaven senior looked more like and upstart , excitable freshman.
Chargers 58, Eagles 57
Winslow Twp. 20 19 8 10 – 57
Timber Creek 14 16 14 14 – 58
WINSLOW (7-18): Devon Murray 23, Mikai Browne 4, Michael Clement 6, Gavin Henry 14, , Sidney Swanson 1, Hiram Jackson 9.
TIMBER CREEK (15-10): Eric Benjamin 14, Tim Schultice 13, Justin Bladen 10, Sean Miller 9, Demetrius Paynter 12, .