In retrospect, Lower Columbia College basketball coach Mickey Polis would’ve liked to have seen his Red Devils play with more poise down the stretch against the Green River Gators.
“We forced some things, and guys got the ball and panicked instead of using more of the shot clock and getting a good shot,” Polis said.
In the end, the Red Devils came out on the short end of a 75-74 decision in NWAC West Region men’s basketball on Wednesday at Truman Myklebust Gymnasium.
The loss dropped LCC to 10-5, 0-1 in region play.
“I would’ve liked to have got some better shots down the stretch, and maybe make a few more free throws,” Polis said. “But that’s basketball, and you have to keep moving on.”
LCC, which trailed 41-38 at halftime, found itself in a 53-42 deficit five minutes into the second half. The Devils battled back, and trailed 66-65 following back-to-back threes from Seth Hall with 4:35 left. The hosts later got a putback bucket from Samaad Hector, and a fastbreak layup and free throw from Hall to grab a 70-69 lead with 1:39 remaining.
Hall made 6-7 threes en route to 21 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds and dished five assists.
“We had a little lull at the start of the second half as they made a run,” Polis said. “It’s league play, and we have to elevate our game. I’m proud of the way they fought back, but we didn’t do a couple of things in the second half that we would’ve liked to.”
Green River pulled ahead 73-70 with seven seconds remaining following four free throws from Mitch Wetmore. Seconds later, Alec Canete-Hall was fouled two steps beyond halfcourt when he jumped to make a pass. The officials called it a three-point shot attempt, but Canete-Hall made only one of three freebies.
On the last missed freebie, Green River’s Kevin Baker was fouled, and made his two free throws for a 75-71 lead with 2.9 seconds left. LCC got the ball inbounded to Hall, who made a three at the buzzer.
“The free throws late were big,” Polis said. “You have to step up when the lights are on and make them. We have to do a couple more things down the stretch to win these games.”
The Red Devils made 41 percent of their shots (29-71) including 8-18 threes, but converted only 8-16 free throws. Green River shot 42 percent (25-59), and made 16-20 free throws.
Hector finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots, and Martis Johnson had 12 points. Canete-Hall dished nine assists, and Dwayne Stewart grabbed five rebounds.
The Red Devils host Centralia on Saturday.