WHEELING - Shadyside freshman forward Austin Dorris pulled down two huge offensive rebounds and turned them into five critical points during the closing minutes Friday night in leading the Tigers to their stunning 57-53 victory against Wheeling Central Catholic, spoiling the Maroon Knights' home opener.
Trailing nearly the entire game, Coach Ed Andes' scrappers went on a 23-10 run in the final quarter to square their early season record at 2-2. Central, hoping to bounce back from a one-sided loss to powerful city rival Wheeling Park, was victimized by 20 turnovers, many of which were of the unforced variety. Poor foul shooting also hampered the Maroon Knights down the stretch.
Both teams, in fact, struggled at the line. Once Shadyside got the lead with time winding down, it missed three straight opportunities to possibly clinch the game. Overall, Shadyside cashed just 9 of 23 free throws while Central was 7 of 17, including a poor 1-for-7 in the fourth quarter.
The Maroon Knights carried a 43-34 advantage into the final eight minutes after junior quard David Park closed period No. 3 by hanging in the air and letting fly with a 22-foot rainbow that dropped through the cords for a 3-pointer.
Braxton Nolte, Central's leading scorer with 17 points as he bounced back with a solid game after being blanked in field-goal attempts during the season opener, restored the Maroon Knights' nine-point advantage at 48-39, two minutes into the final quarter.
The Tigers suddenly caught fire after extending their defense.
''We had to lay back some after one of our guys got into early foul troubles," Andes pointed out. ''To me, Central is a lot better in the half court and we are better in the full court. We picked them up and worked hard on defense in the second half."
The 6-foot-4 Dorris scored on a leaner and added a foul toss a minute later to trim the deficit to six points. Another Central turnover resulted in Skyler Gibson converting a layup at the other end to make it a 48-44 deficit, the closest the Shadyside had been since early in the second quarter.
After Nolte dropped in the front end of a two-shot foul, the Tigers ripped off the next six points to finally take the lead. D.J. Shoemaker, who came off the bench to provide 16 crucial points to the Shadyside cause, scored from underneath and following a steal in the backcourt, he also made the front end of a two-shot foul, pulling the Tigers to within 49-47.
Shoemaker's second shot was off the rim, however Dorris outjumped the Knights for the rebound and scored on the putback while also drawing a foul. He then completed the convential three-point play to send the Tigers on top 50-49 with 3:11 to play.
Nolte's strong drive to the basket regained the lead for the Maroon Knights and they went up 53-50 with a little more than two minutes remaining on Brandon Wallace's strong rebound and putback.
Another Shoemaker basket got the Tigers within one, then Central failed to convert on two straight opportunities at the free-throw stripe. Shadyside, in the double bonus, missed both shots before Dorris grabbed the rebound again and his putback gave the Tigers the lead to stay 54-53 with 40 seconds left.
Central's 20th turnover gave the ball back to the visitors and Gibson netted 1 of 2 from the line. Nolte's deep 3 from the right corner in front of the Central bench rimmed out in what was the Maroon Knights' final chance at the victory. Adam Stupak put in the clincher on a transition basket with less than 10 seconds to play.
''It you look at this game, it was two teams playing as hard as they can play and in my opinion both teams deserved to win," Andes. ''We had chances and they had their shots.
''This is a great place to play and beating Central on their own floor should really help our young team."
Shadyside, which starts four juniors and the freshman Dorris, had three players in double figures. Stupak joined Shoemaker with 16 points, while Dorris finished with 13, eight of his total coming in the fourth quarter.
''Austin doesn't back down. He just keeps playing. Slipping inside to get the rebound and turn into the three-point play that gave us the lead was a smart move by a freshman."
Nolte's 17 points and Park's 10 topped the scoring for the Maroon Knights, who also matched Shadyside's total of 33 rebounds. However, it was Central's struggles at the foul line and the couple of rebounds that got away in the final minutes that had Coach Mel Stephens shaking his head.
''Maybe we should quit shooting free throws in practice," he said. ''We stop and do it twice every day but I don't think we've shot better than 60 percent as a team the last several years. That really cost us again along with the big rebounds on missed free throws by them.
''Learning to win is something that is going to be a little bit of a struggle until we get that first one."