ANDERSON — With another game slipping away late Saturday afternoon, Thomas Wells quite literally stole a victory for the Anderson boys basketball team.
The sophomore guard had two steals in the final 40 seconds, keying a 9-0 run down the stretch as the Indians escaped with a 58-54 victory against Lafayette Jeff.
"I was a little worried after Thursday night and the nice atmosphere we had here," Anderson coach Joe Nadaline said. "That big crowd and all that noise really gets the juices going, and I knew they had to get themselves going today."
The Indians (8-10) snapped a five-game losing streak Thursday with a 59-57 victory against Muncie Central in overtime.The school honored three of the city's Mr. Basketball award winners — Roy Taylor, Ray Tolbert and Kojak Fuller — at halftime, and a large crowd was engaged in the action throughout the night.
Saturday's game was postponed twice and moved to a matinee starting time to avoid a conflict with the girls sectional championship game later in the night at Connersville. As a result, the Tepee lacked the energy it had coursed with earlier in the week.
The crowd fell especially quiet late in the fourth quarter when the Bronchos (4-14) appeared to take command. David Hanyard blocked a shot in the lane, pulled in the loose ball and raced to the other end of the floor where he scored and was fouled.
Hanyard's free throw was the last of his game-high 21 points, completing a traditional three-point play and giving Lafayette Jeff a 54-49 lead with just 1:46 remaining.
Anderson crawled back into the game as Kobe Clay and Zac Owens each split a pair of free throws, but the Bronchos still led 54-51 when they called a timeout out with 53 seconds left.
Nadaline used the break to make a defensive change, calling for full-court and half-court traps. The move immediately paid dividends as Wells burst through a passing lane for a steal to start a fast break.