In nearly 30 years of coaching, Collegiate coach Mitch Fiegel has had his fair share of technicals — but never one for delay of game.
It was a bad time to pick up the first one when Collegiate was whistled for a delay-of-game technical after Cody McNerney fouled out with Collegiate trailing by one point to Andale with 28 seconds remaining.
The technical gave Andale four free throws and the ball back, as Andale capitalized on the mistake to hold on for a 56-51 victory and hand Collegiate its first loss. Andale (16-2) also drew even with Collegiate for the lead in AV-CTL IV with two games to play.
“I apologized to my guys after the game for that and taking them out of an opportunity to win that game,” Fiegel said. “I’ve never had that called on me in 29 years of coaching, but now I have, and you know what, I’m going to learn from that.”
Coaches are allowed 20 seconds after the foul is relayed to the official scorekeeper to make a substitution. At the 20-second mark, McNerney was still on the court trying to motivate the four other players and a referee was prompt in calling the technical.
Andale’s Brody Jobbins made three of the four free throws and Andale made 18 of 20 free throws in the fourth quarter to prevail.
“In a game like that, you hate for a call like that to decide something,” Andale coach Jeff Buchanan said. “But you know, we still had to make the free throws and we still had to defend and make plays.”
Andale was already motivated by an 80-75 loss to Collegiate on Jan. 3, then junior Nick Carney was injured in the first quarter. The injury looked serious and Carney remained on the ground for over five minutes, but he eventually returned to the sidelines and did not have to go to the hospital.
But that didn’t matter to Andale’s players — they wanted to win for their fallen teammate.
“These young men have all grown up together and they’ve been around each other since grade school,” Buchanan said. “They have a certain bond and when one of their guys go down, yeah, they were affected. You could see it in their eyes.”
After playing a free-flowing game in Andale, this time around it was Andale that was able to control the tempo and frustrate Collegiate with a slower pace.
“Anytime we can slow them down in the halfcourt after we beat their press, it frustrates them because they want that fast pace,” Jobbins said. “When we play slow, it frustrates them because they’re not scoring as much as they want.”
Collegiate entered the game averaging better than 72 points and finished with 51, something that Fiegel was quick to point out after the loss.
“If offense decided, then we’d be preaching that,” Fiegel said. “If you could rely on scoring 72 points every night all year long, then we would do that but you can’t. That’s why you have to have the buy-in and believe and be a defense-first team.
“You know we were cruising there and finding ways to win, but not always doing it in a fundamentally-sound way. I’m not sure a little bit of adversity at this time of the season isn’t the best thing that could have possibly happened to us.”
Andale led by as many as eight points in the fourth quarter, but Collegiate rallied with a quick 7-0 spurt in the final two minutes to draw within 49-48 with 35 seconds left.
That’s when McNerney fouled out and the game turned on the technical foul.
Andale freshman Easton Hunter finished with 18 points, while McNerney scored a game-high 19.
“This is a tough atmosphere to play in and I’m really proud of the kids for winning this one,” Buchanan said. “They always have a crowd that gets after it, but I thought tonight our crowd was amazing. They matched them decibel for decibel.”
ANDALE: E. Hunter 18, M. Fairchild 9, B. Jobbins 7, P. Bruce 6, G. Fairchild 6, C. Urbanek 6, C. Cothran 4.
COLLEGIATE: C. McNerney 19, K. Ashley 7, E. Bradley 6, G. Fisher 6, R. Dick 4, M. Cuillo 3, N. Kelley 3, C. Root 7.