NEW CASTLE – Winchester traveled to New Castle Tuesday night for the Falcons’ boys opening season game against the Trojans and the results were not pretty.
The first five minutes of the contest belonged to the Trojans as the home team built a commanding 18-0 lead.
Turnovers by Winchester transitioned into easy buckets for New Castle putting the Falcons into an uphill climb for the rest of the game.
A pair of free throws by Winchester’s Payton Sparks finally broke the drought at the 2:48 mark with a late bucket by Cole Campbell capping off the Falcons’ offense some two minutes later.
“When you dig yourself a hole that big, it’s tough for anybody to come back from,” expressed Winchester head coach Dustin Baldwin. “We weren’t ready right at the beginning and New Castle came out firing and executing.”
To Winchester’s credit, after trailing 21-4 by the end of that first quarter, the Falcons bounced back to play New Castle almost even in the second frame. Led by the seven points from Sparks, along with balanced scoring from four teammates, Winchester’s second quarter had stopped the bleeding as the Falcons pulled to within 16, trailing 36-20 with 55.8 seconds left in the first half.
Unfortunately a buzzer-beating trey by New Castle’s William Grieser stuck a dagger into WC as the Trojans took a 39-20 cushion into the locker-room at half-time.
Any thoughts of a Winchester comeback disappeared quickly as the Trojans scored the first five points of the third quarter to push their lead to a 24-point advantage.
Showing great balance, having seven players score in the third quarter, the Trojans controlled the period, outscoring Winchester 23-6 to take a comfortable 62-26 cushion into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter started well for the Falcons as Sparks stole the ball and broke free for a resounding dunk but the Trojans were relentless, going on a 9-2 run that bumped their lead to 41 points at the 3:08 mark. Winchester closed out strong, outscoring New Castle 8-2 in those final three minutes of play.
“Bottom line is we scheduled New Castle to come here and play a really tough team in a tough venue and that’s what we got,” continued Coach Baldwin. “So from our standpoint, we’re just going to learn from this and move on and get ready for our next opponent.
“We could’ve scheduled somebody else and not got we got tonight. I think we’re still learning. We’re going to move forward and be ready.”
Sparks was a bright spot, leading the Falcons with 17 points, eight rebounds including going 11 for 11 at the free throw line.
For the game Winchester connected on 16 of 17 from the foul line, 94 percent, while sinking 11 of 45 shots from the field for 24 percent. The Falcons owned a 31-19 advantage on the boards but committed 20 turnovers to New Castle’s 10.
Junior guard Cole McDavid led the Trojans scoring 20 points while Trey Miller came off the New Castle bench to tally 11. The Trojans shot 53 percent from the field, hitting seven of 20 from outside the arc to go with 21 of 33 inside for a combined 28 of 53.
From the charity stripe the Trojans shot 10 of 15 for 67 percent.
Winchester looks to bounce back on Friday night when the Falcons host county rival Randolph Southern.
Trojans win JV affair
New Castle claimed a 55-32 victory in the junior varsity contest. Paul Welch led WC with 14 points with Cooper McCoy following with nine. Mason Barker chipped in with four points for the younger Falcons while Jamison Beshears added three and Wyatt Harvey two.
Winchester 4 20 26 38
New Castle 21 39 62 73
FALCONS – Sparks 3-11/12-3-17; W. Sickels 1-0/0-5-2; Campbell 2-0/0-2-4; Burelison 1-0-0/0-1-3; Dunica 2-2/3-1-6; D. Sickels 0-0/0-1-0; Slusher 0-2/2-2-2; Patterson 2-0/0-2-4 Totals 1-10-16/17-17-38
TROJANS – McDaniel 1-7-3/3-1-20; Bergum 2-0/0-0-4; Blessinger 2-1-0/0-4-8; Grieser 1-1-1/2-0-6; Fielden 2-5/7-3-9; Tabor 0-1/2-0-1; Holmes 1-0/0-0-2; Grow 3-0/1-0-6; Miller 3-1-0/0-1-11; Rusch 0-0/0-0-0; French 1-0/0-3-2; Matney 2-0/0-4-4 Totals 7-21-10/15-16-73
Winchester 5 7 34 32
New Castle 17 26 43 55
FALCONS – Welch 14; Anderson 0; McCoy 9; Barker 4; Harvey 2; Beshears 3; Loyd 0