WATERVILLE — Chris Hale missed two games after breaking his nose against Winslow on Jan. 28.

Nokomis probably wishes the Waterville sophomore guard missed one more.

Wearing a mask to protect his broken nose, Hale scored a game-high 29 points. Hale’s biggest shot was his last, a jumper at the buzzer from just inside the three-point line to the left of the key, giving the Purple Panthers a 64-62 win.

“I got a great pass from David Bailey. I caught it at the top and just knew we only had a few seconds left. I just threw it up, and luckily it went in,” Hale, who grabbed 10 rebounds, eight off the offensive glass, said.

Waterville (10-7) coach Jason Briggs had Hale playing point guard at the start of the season. Since moving Hale to the wing, his offense has opened up.

“We played him at the point at the beginning of the year, and we moved him off the ball to get him more touches,” Briggs said. “Before he broke his nose, he was averaging for a three or four game stretch around 14, 15 points… He’s back with a vengeance.”

Added Nokomis coach Carl Parker: “We didn’t have a matchup for Hale tonight. He played a good game.”

Hale’s buzzer beater spoiled an impressive rally by the Warriors. Nokomis (12-5) trailed 52-39 early in the fourth quarter, before shots finally started to fall and Waterville became careless with the ball. After committing just six turnovers through the first three quarters, the Panthers had eight giveaways in the fourth. Those, combined with Nokomis’ suddenly hot shooting, erased the Waterville lead.

“You’ve got to know that their going to make a run. You’ve got to battle back for a few possessions and make every possession count,” Hale said.

Ruel Libby’s layup with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left gave Nokomis its first lead of the game, 56-55. After Hale and Nokomis’ Drew Wing traded baskets, Waterville tied the game on a free throw by Bailey with 1:30 to play.

Hale gave the Panthers the lead with 1:23 left, but Libby drove the lane for a layup to tie the score with 1:06 to go. Bailey and Ethan Pearl traded baskets to tie the game, 62-62, and Waterville called timeout with 4.5 seconds left, setting up Hale’s heroics.

“We have some resiliency, we do. But we made too many mistakes early,” Parker said. “I’m proud of them for fighting back. We needed to make one more play, that’s what it comes down to.”

Waterville led 30-18 at the half, mainly by playing strong defense and getting out on Nokomis’ outside shooters.

“They’re very guard oriented. They shoot the three very well. Up at their place we didn’t do a good job getting on their shooters, and we didn’t when they had that stretch late,” Briggs said.

Andrew Cartright led Nokomis with 18 points, while Spencer Hartsgrove added 14. Brandon Braley had eight points for Waterville, while Josh Gormley grabbed eight rebounds.

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

 


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