By Jason Herd
For the Pharos-Tribune
After starting the season 0-3, Caston’s boys basketball shaped up and put together two solid wins in the last week against Carroll and Taylor.
With Midwest Conference play starting Saturday against Frontier, Caston coach Ben Snyder dealt with an ailing Comet squad this week in practice. Only three varsity players participated on Monday and Tuesday due to an aggressive flu bug that wiped out several Comets.
The Falcons entered the contest at 4-3, and have already scored two conference victories over Winamac and West Central. Despite a late start due to the girls varsity contest going into double overtime, Caston never trailed in the game and scrapped its way to a third straight win, 43-36.
The late start affected both teams, as four minutes went by until the first basket was scored. Caston took its first and final lead of the game as Jake Howdeshell buried a 3 with 3:55 left in the first.
Frontier finally got on the board after Jordan Zarse hit two free throws at the 1:47 mark. Holding for the final shot of the period, junior Quentin Douglass drove the lane and found an open Corey Moss for a 3 at the buzzer.
Sophomore Dustin Offenberger and Moss combined for three 3s to open the second and gave Caston its biggest lead of the night at 17-7.
The Falcons clawed their way back. Austin Woolley hit a 3 at the 3:05 mark, and Hunter Gladish converted two free throws drawing the deficit to four on a 9-3 run to close the half. Woolley led the Falcons with 11 points in the game.
Two more free throws by Gladish to begin the third cut the lead to two at 20-18. With Frontier’s defense obviously focused on Howdeshell, it was Moss who stepped up offensively for the Comets. He ended the period with another 3 in the closing seconds to keep a 28-23 lead. Moss led Caston with 13 points in the contest.
The Falcons struggled with Caston’s pressure defense and found field goals to be a tough commodity. The final period started with promise, however, as Brandon Weinstein rolled in a shot in the lane to begin the quarter. Douglass found Howdeshell in transition for a 3 from the corner to extend the lead to five.
The key play in the fourth came when Douglass scored on a putback and cashed in the free throw to put the Comets up 36-28 with 4:33 to play. Despite their lack of size, the Comets outrebounded the bigger Falcons decisively and held Frontier to just three field goals in the fourth quarter. Douglass and Daniel Scales combined to hit 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“We locked down defensively in the fourth,” Snyder said. “ We only had two practices this week with a full roster, so it was very difficult. I’m extremely proud of these kids and their performance.”
Moss led the Comets with 13 points, followed by Howdeshell (11), Scales (9), Douglass (5) and Offenberger (5).