Big moments dominated the action Friday night as the Tri-City United Titans hosted the Sibley East Wolverines with both teams searching for their first win of the season. There were several big moments throughout the night, but with the game on the line, it was the Titans who made the biggest plays as they pulled away for a 65-52 victory.
“It definitely feels good for the team to get the win and it’s a nice bonus for me on my birthday,” said senior wing Fakourou Tandia. “This win can set the tone for the rest of this season and hopefully it creates a snowball effect because we want to do great things this year.”
The Wolverines were able to take the early advantage with a 9-3 lead and looked to continue to build on their lead after forcing a turnover at the top of the key.
The Sibley East player broke away from everyone and lined himself up for an easy layup, but TCU’s Adam Henze tracked down the play and rose up to block the shot with authority, sending it well into the stands.
Unfortunately for Henze, he landed awkwardly and had to leave the game, but he would later return. His block lifted the energy in the gymnasium and shifted the momentum of the game. The Titans outscored the Wolverines 26-11 during the next stretch with big shots coming from Tandia and Nolan Readmond.
The big run for TCU was buoyed by a defense that continually clogged passing lanes to cause turnovers and offensive possessions that were kept alive with multiple offensive rebounds. The Titans were able to ride the momentum into halftime and took a 35-22 lead into the locker room.
Early in the second half, both teams had little trouble scoring as drives to the basket drew fouls and three pointers seemed to go in with ease. Sibley East was able to get the better of the opening minutes though, as after the team hit a mid-range jumper, the Wolverines cut the TCU lead to 47-44.
Needing a big play, Readmond drilled a three pointer from the top of the arc followed by the Titans forcing a turnover that led to Tandia scoring a fast break layup while drawing the foul.
“This year our defense has done tremendous, we have shown we have the guys who can lock down people,” Tandia said. “On nights when I’m scoring it feels great, but on nights where I’m not, I Know I can trust the guys around me to pick up that slack.”
The Wolverines tried frantically to get back into the game, but they needed TCU to miss free throws, and Tandia was up to the task, making 6-6 down the stretch to secure the victory.
Tandia led all scorers in the game with 19 points, making all 9-9 shots from the free throw line. Henze added 14 points and Reggie Vosejpka added 13 of his own while cleaning up on the boards.
Prior to tip-off, the Titan’s basketball program honored the parents of all the high school basketball players from grades 9-12. The players presented a single white flower to their family in the stands.
TCU returns to action Tuesday, Dec. 21 when the team takes to the road to do battle with Glencoe-Silver Lake.