In the clutch

Houser, Welch delivering for Governors

By Stefan Cooper
Sports Editor
Blount Today

William Blount has been nothing but clutch the last two games.

Governor coach David Baumann would like his team to get to the point where last-second heroics are no longer needed.
Senior Drew Houser knocked down a 3-pointer from the right side with 10 seconds remaining Tuesday, and William Blount turned back a game Lenoir City team, 66-64, at Marvin Boring Gymnasium. Houser’s game-winning basket came a week to the day after a Corey Welch tip in at the buzzer lifted the Governors (10-10, 6-4 District 4AAA) to a 57-56 win at South-Doyle.

"You don’t want to make a living by having to make a couple of threes at the end to win a ball game," Baumann said.
William Blount opened Tuesday’s contest as if the Panthers would be run out of the building. The Governors raced to an 11-3 lead the first four minutes, only to see Lenoir City rally to lead 33-27 at the half. Hot first-half shooting from senior Michael Thompson and freshman Micah Ballard kept the Panthers from opening two wide a gape.

When play resumed, Houser and Welch asserted themselves, a late third-quarter Houser trey helping William Blount reclaim the lead, 46-44, to start the fourth.

The lead would change hands eight times in the final frame, a tense back-and-forth struggle that would see Welch, Houser and senior Billy Tipton, two fourth-quarter 3s, step forward on every occasion.

When Lenoir City snatched the lead away at 54-53 with four minutes left, Welch got the basket for a layup. The Panthers retook the lead at 62-60 with 1:23 remaining. Tipton swished his third trey of the evening with under a minute left to put William Blount back out front.

After Lenoir City took its last lead, 64-63, at the 25-second mark, Houser calmly stroked a deep bomb from the right side that would prove the difference, with Welch collecting the assist.

"We were just trying to get in the lane and pump fake," Welch said. "If nobody’s open, get it to our shooters."

Houser, with Welch’s pass finding him in plenty of time to eye the rim, said he never thought twice about working his way closer.

"I just felt like I’ve got to step up when I need to," he said. "The shot was there. I just wanted to take my time."

A better ending, Houser added, would have been to not need a big, last-second shot in the first place.

"We need to play 32 minutes," he said, "and we’re not doing that."

Welch and Houser have been there when called upon each time this season.

"Everybody’s got roles on our team," Baumann said, "and, those two guys, there role is to score for us."

Houser’s shot moved William Blount into sole possession of fourth place in the league standings, a position of no small importance come tournament time. The bottom four teams are relegated to knock-out games when the District 4AAA tournament opens next month at Maryville, needing two wins there to reach region play.

Baumann would rather not live on that edge.

"We’ve not been consistent," he said. "It’s scary what we could do if we put 32 minutes together. We’re vertically challenged. We have to play hard for 32 minutes to compensate."

An all-important fourth seed next month may very well hang in the balance.

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