WHITING | Shooters keep shooting.
Whiting's Martin Petruf hadn't hit a shot all night, but when Victor Quinones found him open behind the 3-point line with only 14 seconds to go in a tie game, Petruf didn't hesitate.
"I was just feeling it. It just came to me," Petruf said. "In warm-ups, I was hitting my shots, so I was confident."
The sophomore buried the shot, and with it Hanover Central's hopes of earning its first win of the season. The Oilers took the first round of the Greater South Shore Conference tournament, topping the Wildcats 58-55.
"I haven't breathed all season," Whiting coach Tim Hopps said. "So many of our games have been within two, three, four, five points. They're going to give me a heart attack."
Whiting (7-6) seemed to be in control early, but the Wildcats (0-12) rallied in the second quarter. Hanover Central finished the half with an 11-2 run to close the gap to 29-28. H.C. controlled the boards and actually led 45-40 heading into the final eight minutes.
Then the Oilers turned up the defensive pressure. Hanover Central couldn't seem to make a pass, to the point that coach Bryon Clouse put in a couple of guards who weren't even listed on the varsity roster. The Wildcats were called for a 10-second violation down 55-52 with 58 seconds left.
One of those J.V. guards, Dustin Lindley, stole an Oilers pass and hit Payton Smith for a layup with a foul. Smith finished the three-point play, but Quinones found an open Petruf on the next play down the floor.
Hanover Central won the girls game 44-35 earlier in the night. Sophomore Brooke Sterkowitz led all scorers with 20 points, 10 of which came in the opening quarter.
"In my head, I was like 'We need to score. We need to win,'" Sterkowitz said. "We needed a win."
Lisa Gac and Roper both made big contributions inside. Roper finished with 13 points and five rebounds while Gac blocked four shots and altered several more for the 'Cats (7-8). H.C.'s size was too much for the Oilers to handle.
"(Sterkowitz) came out shooting, came out being aggressive," coach Doug Nelson said. "Then when they had to come out on here, then (Kristen) Roper was open inside. It was just a matter of getting her the ball."
Citlali Lopez was limited in points, but did everything else for Whiting (10-6). She finished with only seven points, but the diminutive guard grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. None of the Oilers had double-digit points.
"It's a good win, just for the fact that we've lost four in a row. It doesn't matter who we were playing," Nelson said. "Just to get the mojo back and smile a little bit was a nice change."