WEIRTON - In a war of attrition, like the one that took place Tuesday on senior night at Weir High between the Red Riders and Brooke, one moment can be the difference between winning and losing.
That moment came with the Bruins leading 53-52 and 3:18 left in the game.
After a Brooke foul sent Weir's Tony Gurrera to the foul line, one of the Bruins players was called for a technical foul. Gurrera stepped to the charity stripe and knocked down four shots - two for the technical and two for the original foul - to give his team a 56-53 lead and the Red Riders ultimately held on to win 58-55.
DRIBBLE DRIVE — Brooke’s Nick Breen pressures Weir’s Mike Drizake during the Bruins 58-55 loss to the Red Riders Tuesday at Weir High.
-- Fred Younce
"I think it was fitting in a way for our seniors," said Weir head coach Mike Granato. "All five of them are great contributors to our program, Harely (Mills) got some big rebounds at the end. Tony knocked down those free throws. Mike Drizake hit some big shots for us in the second half, finally got of the schnide a little bit and hit some threes. Matt Kource and Evan Woodland, our other two seniors, stepped in and did some things for us today.
"Some things you don't necessarily see in the box so it was a total team win."
The Red Riders secured a 14-13 lead after the first quarter. Mills controlled the middle, scoring eight of his game-high 20 points in the opening stanza. Nick Breen led the Bruins with five of his 13 points.
"We really thought we wanted to go inside early and often," said Granato. "When they started doubling and tripling Harley down low we were able to kick the ball back outside and our guards hit some shots."
Weir maintained the one-point advantage heading into intermission as both teams scored 11 points in the second quarter. Only Brooke's Ryan Heaton hit more than one shot from the floor in the stanza, scoring all four of his points. Five different players hit shots for the Riders.
The third stanza was back-and-forth throughout, neither team able to secure a significant advantage. With 48 seconds left in the period, Brooke took a 43-42 lead, and when the buzzer sounded the Bruins led 45-42. Eric Johnson and Brian Gialluco scored seven and six respectively to lead the Bruins. Drizake knocked down three shots from behind the three-point arc to lead Weir with nine.
"Their press was good," said Granato. "We play a lot of teams that do a lot of different things but their full court press is outstanding. We have to do a better job of getting the other four kids that don't have the ball to understand you have to move to the ball and it's not always going to be in the same pattern. That's a credit to them. That's a credit to the Brooke kids and how they play defense and how they attack.
"You go back to the game they beat us at Christmas, they beat us by 15, they pressed us the same way, we just didn't make the shots we made today."
Brooke maintained the lead up until that fateful moment with 3:18 left, holding its biggest lead with 6:04 left at 50-44.
After Gurrera displayed the ice water in his veins the teams each went 2-of-4 from the foul line with Mills knocking down both his attempts for the Riders and Johnson hitting both of his for Brooke. The Bruins were able to get off a pair of contested three-point attempts in the final seconds to tie the game but both were off-target and Weir held on for the 58-55 win.
The charity stripe proved to be the difference in the fourth quarter. Both teams hit 13 foul shots for the game, Weir on 19 attempts and Brooke on 18, but the Red Riders had shot only 1-of-2 over the first three quarters. Weir, which scored 16 in the final quarter, knocked down 12-of-17 attempts secure the win.
"I guarantee they shot a lot more foul shots than we did and the game was won at the foul line," said Brooke head coach Dave Reitter of the fourth quarter. "The thing is unfortunately as a coach you see it one way and the official sees it the other way, but like I said I guarantee the foul line was the difference in the game."
Joining Mills in double-digits for the Red Riders was Drizake with 17 points. Gurrera added nine in the win.
"They're a tough ball club in the half court with Mills on the inside and Drizake hit a couple threes this time," said Reitter. "We needed to get out on him early. Basically what you try to do is get your kids to play as hard as they can. Our kids played hard.
"When you get some steals you have to finish them."
Johnson matched Breen for team-high with 13 points for the Bruins. Hunter Wallace pitched in nine as well.
Brooke is next in action with games on Friday and Saturday.
"The thing is we have to move on," said Reitter. "On Friday we have Big Red and on Saturday we have Morgantown so we have one of the best teams in the Ohio Valley and then we go play one of the best teams in our section on back-to-back nights. There's not time to feel sorry for ourselves."
Weir takes to the court with a road date on Saturday.
"We go to really good Grafton team on Saturday," said Granato. "They're 8-7, but they play predominantly a AAA schedule like we do and so going down to play them will be very difficult.
"As far as momentum goes we'll enjoy this game tonight with the understanding we have another tough one on Saturday."
Weir 58, Brooke 55
Brooke 13 11 21 10 - 55
Weir 14 11 17 16 - 58
BROOKE: Gialluco 3 1-2 7, Breen 4 3-4 13, Schambach 1 0-0 3, Johnson 4 4-4 13, Wallace 2 4-6 9, Heaton 2 0-0 4, Schwertfeger 2 1-2 6, Gambellin 0 0-0 0, Barnhart 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 13-18 55. 3-pointers: Breen (2), Schambach, Johnson, Wallace, Schwertfeger.
WEIR: Woodland 0 0-2 0, Gurrera 2 4-5 9, Drizake 5 4-4 17, Cassiadoro 2 0-2 4, Groves 1 2-2 4, Kource 0 0-0 0, Mills 8 3-4 20, Carnes 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 20 13-19 58. 3-pointers: Drizake (3), Gurrera, Mills.