BOSTON -- Junior phenom Jared Wilson-Frame led the way for Windsor (Conn.) with 28 points in their BABC Holiday Classic showdown against New Mission, and the Warriors were able to hold off a barrage of points from the Titans in the final minutes, escaping with a 74-71 win.
“Well it’s a tough environment to play in, it’s a good little gym and they’re a good team,” Windsor coach Ken Smith said following the game. “I’m pretty sure they’re going to make runs. I watched them play the other night [against Mansfield], that’s a good team you got there and I’m sure this is going to be a springboard for them.”
New Mission trailed by as many as 10 points late in the fourth quarter, but were given a nice boost by Isshiah Coleman in the paint. In the game’s final minutes, the senior forward cleaned up on the offensive boards and put back six of his 10 points on the afternoon.
The Titans (4-3) were able to cut the deficit all the way down to one in the closing seconds on a steal and fast-break lay-up from Percio Gomez, but were slow to commit a foul on the ensuing Windsor (5-0) possession and had to settle on sending Wilson-Frame to the line rather than senior Jaquan Harrison.
After Wilson-Frame hit both free throws to extend the lead to three, New Mission, with 7.3 seconds left on the clock, looked to leading scorer Juwan Gooding (18 points, six assists) to send it to overtime. Windsor was ready though, triple-teaming Gooding behind the line as the sophomore tossed up a prayer that found the backboard and the rim, but not the net.
Following the game, New Mission head coach Cory McCarthy attributed his team’s loss to their performance at the free throw line (7 of 21), and the effort on the boards by his bigs.
“I’m not upset about the loss at all,” McCarthy said. “That’s something that the players have to put on themselves. They have to say to themselves ‘I have to get better, I have to do better, I gotta help our team win’, and that’s what it came down to.”
“I like Windsor a lot, I like what they did, and I’d play them a hundred times if we could. At the same time, I feel like we didn’t stay true to who we were today.”
Guarding Windsor: Entering today’s game, Windsor averaged just under 80 points per game, including a 94-point performance two weeks ago against South Windsor (Conn.).
The Warriors are led by Wilson-Frame, a 6-foot-4 junior who is drawing interest from Miami, Providence, UConn and UCLA just to name a few.
Included in his 28-point performance was a put-back that put a halt to a 7-0 scoring run in the closing minutes for New Mission, two free throws that found nothing but net with the game on the line in the final seconds, and a silky-smooth drive to net throughout the game that is surely leaving scouts drooling.
“We came out in a diamond and one [press]," McCarthy said. "It was pretty effective against him but he hit some huge hero shots. He played Superman for them tonight and he delivered. I thought our diamond and one bothered him early, and then when Nate [Anderson] came out of the game we had less length on him.”
McCarthy was also quick to credit Windsor point guard Tyler Rowe who, despite being listed at just 5-foot-6, gave New Mission fits on the glass and on the floor through out the afternoon.
“He was tremendous, every decision he made was 100 percent right," McCarthy said. "He was totally efficient, and I have no problem with that.”
Grueling three-day swing: No matter what the future may hold for this year’s New Mission team, no one can look back at the end of the season and say they played a soft schedule.
For that reason, McCarthy likes his team’s chances going forward.
In the past three days, the Titans have taken on a Christ The King team thought by many to be No. 1 in the state of New York; beaten previously-undefeated Mansfield, ranked number No. 4 in ESPNBoston.com's statewide poll; and hung until the final minutes against a Windsor team that is also ranking in at No. 4 in Connecticut.
“You will see in the middle of January, how much better we are because of this,” McCarthy said of the three-day stretch. “This is no disrespect to anybody else, but we won’t see three more teams as good as the three teams we just played for the rest of the year.
“If we can play above, or at that level that we played at for the last three days, I’m confident of where we will be in the end.”
Asked what his motivation was to schedule three straight games against three teams of that capability, McCarthy pointed to building his team’s character.
“I just want my guys to get tougher," he said. "I want to deflate some egos. If we start reading the clippings, and thinking that we’re better than everybody else...It humbles guys.
“So we see that sort of level. Can we match that level? Can we win on that level? I think we can, I think we have some little things that we can work on to get it done."