'Bench Bunch' keys victory
February 6, 2013
Junior Jordan Berlin celebrate with senior Brandon Candella following Candella's game-winning basket. (Wilmington photo/John Swartzel)
While it was two reliable players that ultimately sealed the deal, a collective unit of reserves put Wilmington into position for the 50-47 victory Wednesday over Otterbein in Ohio Athletic Conference action at Fred Raizk Arena in Hermann Court.
Junior Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington) provided the biggest play of the game when he stepped in front of an Otterbein player with seven seconds remaining and fed senior Brandon Candella (West Chester, OH/Lakota West) for the winning basket. Candella, who was fouled on the play, made the free throw for the final margin.
“Malcolm Heard was special tonight,” said head coach K.C. Hunt. “He was a man amongst boys, but I think he would admit that he had opportunities to be better.”
Heard finish with his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points with a career-high tying 15 rebounds. He added four steals, four blocks and three assists. The one chink in Heard’s armor was the fact he was 3-of-10 from the foul line.
Candella scored the final six points of the game as Wilmington closed the game on a 14-2 run. The run was started following a Wilmington timeout in which Hunt decided a new set of five players were needed.
The coach turned to reserves Tre Stennett (Mount Vernon, OH/Westerville Central), Dwight Johnson (Dayton, OH/Jefferson), Christian Patterson (Cincinnati, OH/Norwood), Ben McGriff (Beavercreek, OH/Beavercreek) and Taylor Kin (Sandusky, OH/Riverdale). The Wilmington back-ups outscored their counterparts, 16-6.
“It started with ‘the Bench Bunch’,” said Hunt. “They gave us an energy that we needed. We were sleepwalking up to that point. We were not playing with the type of intensity needed to win an OAC game.”
The biggest contributor of the bunch was McGriff, who stayed on the court for the final 10 minutes of the game. While his stat line – two rebounds and zero points – wasn’t overly impressive, he made plays. The 10 minutes were a career-high for the junior forward.
“I thought when Ben entered tonight we were missing toughness,” said Hunt. “His effort was tremendous. You have to credit him for staying ready. Up to that point, he hasn’t played a single minute. That is what being a college player is about.”
Wilmington shot just 30 percent from the field, and 11 percent (2-of-17) from beyond the arc, but their defense proved to be defense maker. The Fightin’ Quakers forced 20 turnovers, while committing just eight, which enabled them to overcome the 40 percent shooting from Otterbein.
Johnson added nine points, four steals and three assists, while Candella failed to reach double figures for just the second time this season – scoring eight points.
Wilmington (11-11 overall, 8-7 OAC) remains tied for fourth place in the OAC standings. WC hosts John Carroll, who is 7-8 in the OAC, 3 p.m. Saturday for the final home regular season game for the five seniors.