You might be hard pressed to find a team that has been more unlucky in district play than the Page Patriots this season.
They’ve lost all but one of their district games so far this season by five points or less, including a heartbreaking last-second loss to Ravenwood just a week ago. The Patriots can now add Summit to that growing list.
The Summit Spartans (10-3, 5-2 11-AAA) held on for a 42-39 victory on Tuesday night against Page (10-6, 1-6 11-AAA) with a tough defensive effort and a balanced offensive effort. That’s six wins in a row for the Spartans, who haven’t lost a game since the new year.
“This is one of those games where we needed everyone to contribute and we gutted it out,” Summit head coach Jim Fey said.
Page trailed from behind for virtually the entire contest, but always stayed within striking distance. And the Patriots had their chances to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the waning moments of the game.
Patriots guard Andres Casella hit a three-pointer with 1:07 remaining in the fourth quarter to cut the Spartans’ lead down to 40-39, setting up a tense and chaotic final minute of play.
After failing to force a turnover, the Patriots were forced to foul Summit’s Destin Wade with 24 seconds remaining, and Wade made both free throws to put the Spartans back up by three points. Wade finished the game with a team-high 10 points for the Spartans.
A pair of turnovers by Page in the final seconds should have sunk the Patriots’ chances, but missed free throws gave the Patriots one last chance to tie the game and force overtime.
Page got the ball into Casella’s hands in the final seconds with an opportunity to hit the game-tying three-pointer, but his shot from way beyond the arc missed the mark and went out of bounds with two seconds remaining, sealing Page’s fate.
“That seems to be the story of who we are right now,” Page head coach Larry Noe said. “We made too many mental mistakes at the end of the game, especially after fighting so hard to get back into the game. We got to where we wanted to be, but we have to learn how to finish.”
Those late miscues led to a sigh of relief for the opposing bench.
“I wish we would have made some of those free throws at the end, that would have been much less stressful on me,” Fey said. “That being said, we led pretty much the whole game and found a way to get the job done.”The two district foes will meet again on Valentine's Day--Friday, Feb. 14--on Summit's home court.
In the meantime, Page hopes to turn their fortunes around in their rematch against Centennial at home on Friday night. The Patriots lost by three points to the Cougars in early December to kick off district play.
The Spartans will try to extend their win streak to seven games with a win at home against Dickson County that same night.