WILLARD - When it was suggested to Willard coach Chris Long that his team's 45-39 win over Columbian was ugly, the mentor smiled.
"To us, there's no ugly or good looking win," Long said. "A win is a win."
And while the game wasn't a thing of beauty, Carson Ebert's timing was.
The Flashes' junior made a 3 pointer in the final seconds of the first half, then made another at the buzzer of the third. He made four 3s overall and had 22 points in pushing the Flashes to 5-2, 2-1 in the Northern Ohio League.
"I'm not surprised by it," Long said. "Carson's put the time, the effort in. Sometimes it's just a matter of when opportunity meets preparation."
Opportunity was something Columbian had in abundance Friday night, but despite taking a 13-7 second-quarter lead, TC's offense struggled.
Tornadoes' coach Bill Beaston said it was matter of not converting shots.
"Bottom line is, we just missed too many shots in the paint," Beaston said. "We had point-blank looks, shots we wanted within the offense, shots that we needed to make, and we didn't make them. That was the difference in the game."
Derek Dryfuse put up solid numbers again for the Tornadoes, scoring a team-best 15 points to go with eight rebounds. But none of his teammates scored more than seven points.
Beaston said that overall, he was happy with his defense.
"Our thought going in was that if we were just solid with their sets, we could defensively throw up a number, which we did," he said. "We only gave up 45 points. That's a really, really good defensive night. Now, looking back, I think I erred. We maybe should have pressured them a little more. We didn't see on film where we could do that, but with the way the game transpired, I think maybe we should have."
Ebert's 3 from the right wing gave the Flashes a 21-18 advantage going into the half, and his trey at the buzzer of the third quarter put Willard ahead 31-26.
Dryfuse started the fourth with a layup to cut TC's deficit to three. But the Flashes answered with a 7-0 run, the last five points of which were scored by Carson. Carson's layup gave Willard its largest lead, 38-28, with 5:06 left in regulation.
But Columbian - which has made a habit of doing this in recent years - scrambled back late.
Down 41-31 after a pair of free throws by Willard's Connor Robinson with 2:46 on the clock, TC ran off five straight points on a free throw by Donovan Walker and a free throw and three-point play by Josh Flint. Walker's 3 with 51 seconds left got TC within 43-39, but despite numerous chances to get closer, the Tornadoes offense didn't convert.
"They'll play until the last buzzer goes off," Beaston said of his team. "They're gonna bring it. Whatever defense we call, they're gonna bring it to the best of their abilities. That's why I love these guys."
TC fell to 3-2, 1-1 in the NOL. It returns to NOL play tonight at Norwalk.