A chaotic fourth quarter by the Duchesne boys basketball team gave way to its biggest win of the season Friday at Fort Zumwalt North.
The Pioneers, after scoring just 13 points in the first half, poured in 37 the rest of the way thanks to clutch shooting performances from Sam Briscoe and Trevor Tune in a 50-46 conference victory that came down to the wire.
Zumwalt North, appearing in its first game action in nearly three weeks and its first home game of the season, did not trail until the 2:02 mark of the fourth quarter. That’s when Tune, a senior, contributed to Duchesne’s rally by making a contested basket in the lane to put the Pioneers ahead 42-41.
Minutes later, after Zumwalt North senior Jacob Boyd tied the game at 46 on a 3-pointer with 16.8 seconds left, Tune came through with the eventual game-winning basket off a feed in transition from sophomore Clay Stulce.
Briscoe, who scored all of his team-high 13 points after halftime, converted two free throws to seal the win.
“We were struggling in the first half,” said Briscoe, a sophomore guard. “We were getting our looks, then in the second half we started getting them to fall and it gave us a big boost. We came in and kept playing with a bunch of heart and pulled it out.”
Tune scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“To be honest, we probably should have lost that thing,” Duchesne coach Wade Bouslog said. “But you find a way to win it. If we’re going to try to win a conference title, you’ll have to go on the road and find a way to win when you’re down and not hitting shots.”
The key to victory for Duchesne, which has three players on its roster listed at 6-foot-6 or above, was utilizing its strength inside.
“It looked in the first half like we had all three of our bigs down in (the paint) just clustered up,” Bouslog said. “They were pretty physical with our big guys, and our big guys are better (in space) when they can move around. I thought (in the second half) we got our bigs moving a little bit better and spaced the floor on them. We got some stops, made some plays and hit some shots.”
Boyd’s basket to open the second half gave Zumwalt North its biggest lead of the game at 25-13. From there Duchesne then went on a 9-0 run highlighted by consecutive baskets from sophomore Drew Moore and Briscoe’s first points of the game, a 3-pointer.
Sophomore Chaz Glotta, who finished with a game-high 19 points, ended North’s scoring drought with a trey of his own, and senior Herod Montgomery converted an old-fashioned three-point play as the Panthers entered the final quarter ahead 33-27.
The turning point of Duchesne’s comeback came with 3:39 remaining when Boyd was whistled for intentionally fouling Briscoe. Briscoe made both free throws, and on Duchesne’s ensuing possession sophomore Ryan Tune converted a layup and was fouled, cutting North’s lead to 37-34.
“That second half when they got that intentional foul, Sam hit those free throws and my brother had an and-one, that was big,” Trevor Tune said. “He didn’t make the free throw but that was a four-point swing. After that I had a good feeling.”
Both teams managed to score points on their next two possessions, combing for 10 points in a 32-second span, which Briscoe capped with a trey from the top of the key that cut North’s lead to 41-40.
Trevor Tune then came through with the go-ahead basket before Glotta countered with a fast-break basket to recapture the lead for North at 43-42.
Duchesne scored the game’s next four points on free throws, leading to Boyd’s tying 3-pointer and Tune’s game-winning basket with eight seconds left.
“We came out and were going to run a set (play) and we saw that (full-court press),” said Briscoe, who received the inbound pass and sent the ball to Stulce in transition.
“He threw it deep, I caught it and I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Stulce said. “Then I saw Trevor, made a quick decision and threw it down to him. I’m just glad he caught it and put it in.”
Following a loss in which his team held the lead for nearly 24 minutes, Zumwalt North coach Charles Glotta was most displeased about how his team strayed from its defensive game plan and missed several costly layups down the stretch.
“We started worrying about our man and they spread our defense out,” Glotta said. “That allowed them to go inside a couple times, then we collapsed a little bit and they made some shots. Defensively, we got lax a little bit.”
Glotta also second-guessed his strategy with the game tied on Duchesne’s final inbound pass that led to Tune’s game-winning basket.
“I probably shouldn’t have gone with that press,” he said. “We should’ve kept everything in front. We were trying to force something.”
Both teams are coming off seasons in which they won district titles and lost in sectionals, Duchesne in Class 4 and Zumwalt North in Class 5.
The Pioneers improved to 8-4 overall and 2-0 in the Gateway Athletic Conference North. Duchesne is the defending league champion and was 6-0 in conference play last year, ending St. Charles West’s string of eight straight titles.
Zumwalt North, looking to build on its first 20-win season in school history, fell to 5-6 and 0-1.
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