Griffin's last-second shot lifts St. Paul to win over Huron

Mark Hazelwood • Updated Jan 26, 2019 at 11:34 PM

NORWALK — It didn’t look good off the hand.

And Jake Griffin certainly didn’t call bank.

But the St. Paul senior’s fall away jumper from just to the left of the free-throw line with one second left gave the Flyers a 55-52 win over visiting Huron on Saturday inside Harvey Keller Gymnasium.

Griffin was also fouled on the tough shot, and made the free throw that sealed the win to improve St. Paul to 10-5 overall.

“It was an isolation play for me to get up a shot,” Griffin said of his first-ever game winning basket. “I knew their defender had jumped before, so I thought I’d try the same move again and try to get to the free-throw line — but I made it.

“It was awesome, we had a big crowd and it was nice to do it in front of the home fans,” he added. “It was a big game. We needed to win one of these non-league games against a good opponent.”

St. Paul had trailed 28-25 at halftime, and were down 33-25 at the 5:27 mark of third quarter — and again by a 38-31 deficit at the 2:08 mark of the quarter.

That’s when the Flyers went to work, going on a 16-2 scoring run over a 4:49 stretch to take a 47-40 lead.

Down 38-36, Alex Kashian got a steal and was fouled on a layup attempt. He made both free throws with 3.2 seconds left in the quarter to tie the game at 38. Trailing 40-38, Kashian then was fouled and made the basket — and added the free throw to complete the three-point play.

That sequence gave the Flyers the lead (41-40) with 6:55 left — their first lead since the 2:50 mark of the second quarter (21-20).

“Coach (Mike) Smith put us in the best spot to play good defense,” Kashian said. “Getting that steal put the momentum in our hands. That was definitely our best defensive quarter and this win gives us confidence.”

Nick Winslow added two free throws, then Griffin scored twice, including two foul shots, to give St. Paul the 47-40 lead. But the Tigers (7-8) had a rally of their own.

A Drew Wennes basket and three-point play by Michael Hurst with 2:10 left tied the game at 48. Nick Winslow split two free throws with 1:18 left, but Huron’s Joey Brown scored with 1:07 to go to give his team a 50-49 lead.

But another role player off the bench, Brandon Furlong, had the answer when he was fouled on a basket with 46.7 seconds left. He made the free throw to give the Flyers a 52-50 lead, but Huron again tied it on an easy inside basket by Nic Ritzier with 32.1 seconds to go.

That led to the final sequence from Griffin, who admitted the shot didn’t look good when he let go.

“Not really, no,” he said. “I was just trying to get a shot up and get a shooting foul toward the basket and it went in.”

After getting routed at Willard (69-39) on Tuesday, the Flyers responded with a 58-49 win over Crestview on Friday, and the win over the Tigers on Saturday. A double Firelands Conference weekend looms next week at New London on Friday and at home vs. Monroeville on Saturday.

“Very proud of our kids. They could have beat themselves up after Tuesday night’s performance,” Smith said. “I think we learned a little bit of a lesson there. We kept telling them at halftime to stick with what we want done and just focus. We would get an opportunity if we continued to do that.

“So again, just real happy for our kids,” he added. “They work extremely hard and care about each other. That one felt good tonight.”

Griffin paced the Flyers with 14 points and four rebounds, while Nick Winslow added 11 points and five rebounds. Kashian added nine points and six rebounds while making all five foul shots he took — and Furlong added seven points and six rebounds.

“We ask Alex to come off the bench to give us that punch that we need,” Smith said of Kashian. “Sometimes it doesn’t mean we have our five best offensive players at the start, but we like him and Brandon along with Justin (Hammersmith) and Noah (Good) coming in off the bench as well.

“No one is selfish and it’s really good group of kids,” he added. “I can’t say enough about them tonight. It was a great win for us.”

The St Paul junior varsity fell to 13-2 after a 60-54 loss to the Tigers. Jordan Shepherd scored 19 points, while Grant Houck scored 11 points and Ethan Blair added 10.

HURON (7-8)

Matthew Hurst 1-1—3; Casey Scroggins 0-1—1; Cole Parker 1-1—3; Jimmy Harkelroad 3-2—10; Drew Wennes 7-0—16; Joey Brown 4-0—9; Nic Ritzler 4-2—10. TOTALS 20-7—52.

ST. PAUL (10-5)

Jake Griffin 3-8—14; Nick Winslow 3-4—11; Brandon Furlong 2-2—7; Justin Hammersmith 2-0—4; Nate Winslow 2-1—5; Ian Kashian 2-1—5; Alex Kashian 2-5—9. TOTALS 16-21—55.

Huron   14 14 10 14 — 52

St. Paul 13 12 13 17 — 55

3-point FGs: (H) Harkelroad 2, Wennes 2, Brown

JV: Huron, 60-54

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