SALT LAKE CITY —
Believe it or not, Jameel McKay wasn’t supposed to even be on the floor in fourth-ranked Indian Hills first road test of the season.
Fans at Salt Lake’s Bruin Arena certainly wouldn’t have known how sick McKay was prior to tipoff on Tuesday night. They only knew how bad they felt watching McKay put the finishing touch on a gutsy road win for the Warriors.
McKay collected his own free throw miss and slammed home the rebound, highlighting an 8-0 run that helped IHCC finally pull away from Salt Lake in the final minute of the second overtime. It was just one of the key plays by several players that highlighted a 94-84 win for the Warriors over the Bruins on a long Tuesday night in Utah, the home state of head coach Barret Peery.
“It feels like 1:30 in the morning to me right now,” the second-year Warrior coached joked after the 50-minute battle. “I want to get these guys fed and get them to bed. This is just the start of the trip.”
The trip started very promising for the Warriors, who used consecutive 3-pointers by Trinson White to get off to a fast start by opening a quick 10-2 lead.
The Bruins had trouble handling the Warrior press, leading to several turnovers and a 6-0 run that put IHCC up 18-7 — a double-digit lead that would last throughout most of the first half.
A Ronald Ross 3-pointer gave IHCC their largest lead of the opening half, 35-21, with 3:30 to go before Skyler Halford’s 3-pointer started an 11-2 run that got Salt Lake back within six. The Bruins kept right on battling back as six points by Sai Tummala in the opening minute of the second half tied the game for the first time.
The game continued to see-saw back and forth in the second half. IHCC saw leads of 10 and seven points disappear at different times in the second half with a late 9-1 run by Salt Lake giving the Bruins a 74-71 lead with 17.8 seconds to go. Staring their first loss right in the eye, sophomore Frank Williams buried a clutch game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left to force the first overtime.
“I know I’ll talk about it for years to come. I hope Frank will too,” Peery joked. “It’s a special, special shot for him to take and make.”
IHCC opened a four-point lead in overtime before back-to-back layups by Skylar Halford forced a second overtime. The final shot tied the game at 80-80 with 1.4 seconds left and kept the game going despite the Warriors hitting a full-court shot that just missed being the game winner.
“I certainly thought it was good,” Peery said of the shot. “The officials got together and told us it didn’t get away in time.”
IHCC finally got the lead for good as Trinson White nailed a go-ahead jumper with 3:35 to go in the second overtime, 22 seconds after Tyrell Corbin’s jumper tied the game for the sixth and final time. That Corbin jumper would be Salt Lake’s last field goal for over three minutes while the Warriors put the game away with eight straight points.
“We were going to have to battle through adversity, but we put ourselves in some of those situations,” Peery said. “The guys kept fighting and fighting. I’ve been preaching this since the start of the year that not every game is going to be easy. I’m going to test these guys.
“I’m proud the guys hung in there. It was a great game to watch for everyone. It was even amazing to watch.”
Justin Moss led IHCC with one of two double-doubles, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 rebounds as the fourth-ranked Warriors earned their sixth straight win. The other double-double came from McKay, who scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high 15 boards after it appeared the Milwaukee sophomore wouldn’t even make it onto to floor after battling an illness throughout the day.
“If you have an all-American that can walk and you get desperate enough, you’ll put him out there,” Peery joked. “He certainly gave us a great effort considering.”
Halford led Salt Lake with 20 points while Gary Payton II added a 13-point, 10-rebound double-double for the 4-2 Bruins. No. 6 IHCC will play at the Southern Idaho Classic Friday afternoon against Treasure Valley (Ore.) at 4:30 p.m.