by Jason Herd
For the Pharos-Tribune
It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers.
No matter which team sport you choose, players that score usually get the most attention. Touchdowns, goals, home runs, 3-pointers; you name it. Through the course of a basketball season, those crucial intangibles like defense, screening, rebounding, and taking charges get lost sometimes.
But every good team has at least one player that makes themselves a star with those attributes. A bruiser. An unselfish warrior that accepts his role to do the dirty work behind the flash. A player like Daniel Scales.
The senior forward spurred key runs down the stretch to help Caston capture another key Midwest Conference victory at home, as the Comets’ second-half surge doomed a solid Tri-County squad in a 51-44 defeat on Friday night.
Caston (14-6, 5-1 MWC) is now in second place all alone in the league standings. The Comets have to beat Winamac on Tuesday and turn around and root for the Cavaliers (12-8, 4-2) to beat first-place Pioneer next Friday for a chance to share the league title with the Panthers.
An offense that has sputtered in recent games suddenly came alive on Friday night. Jake Howdeshell’s 8-0 run shot the Comets ahead to start the game, culminating with a steal and layup at the 6:34 mark. Consecutive 3s by Howdeshell and Dustin Offenberger extended the Comet lead to 11 midway through the first. But the quality Cavalier team soon got on track. Junior Zack Patton hit a 3 then scored on a putback at the 1:33 mark. This was all part of a 9-0 closing run by Tri-County, which ended with a Lucas Vosburgh steal and layup to draw the deficit to just two.
The Cavaliers took their first lead when Vosburgh opened the second with a 3. Howdeshell hit his fourth 3 a minute later and was followed by one of many Scales putbacks. Logan Snyder scored with a minute to play to tie the game at 22, which is how the half ended.
Riley Benner’s third 3 of the game gave Tri-County its final lead at 28-25 with 5:28 to play in the third quarter. He led the Cavaliers with 14 points.
Scales took a charge from Patton, which proved to be the turning point in the game. Caston proceeded to go on a devastating 20-2 run, which extended into the final period.
Scales started it himself with a putback at the 3:20 mark of the third, followed by another 3 from Offenberger that gave Caston the lead for good at 30-28. Quentin Douglass had four points in the run, including a steal and layup late the third.
The Cavaliers had trouble tracking Howdeshell in the second half as well, as the sharpshooter canned three more treys. He had a game-high 27 points, including eight 3-pointers.
“We’ve come together the last two weeks. After the Pioneer loss, we realized we needed to get better,” Howdeshell said.
Kyle Miller ended the drought for Tri-County with a three of his own with 4:44 left in the game. But two more offensive rebound buckets and another charge from Scales sent Tri-County into a tailspin. The Comet lead grew to 16 after a Douglass steal and layup with 3:28 to play.
The Cavaliers outscored Caston 8-2 down the stretch, but the game was already in hand. Scales finished with 10 points for Caston.
“We had a great week of practice,” Scales said. “The seniors have decided that we don’t want any regrets, so losing is not an option.”
Caston hosts Winamac on Tuesday for senior night to conclude the regular season.