EAST PALESTINE - Before joining his exuberant team in the locker room, East Palestine first-year coach Sean McKeown stood alone by the scorer's table, trying to catch his breath. His first win couldn't have come much more exciting.
Senior forward Alec Dumbauld swished a three-pointer from the right corner as the buzzer sounded, giving the Bulldogs a thrilling 53-50 win over South Range on Friday. It was only Dumbauld's second field goal on what was a tough shooting night.
"I'm just glad it went through the rim," Dumbauld said. "I don't know what my percentage was, but I don't think it was good. I'm just very glad right now."
The Bulldogs improve to 1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Inter-Tri County League upper tier. It is McKeown's first career varsity win. He was hired in July serving as a varsity assistant for Youngstown Christian and a freshman coach at Boardman.
"I'm very proud of our kids," McKeown said. "The way they fought the entire game, we struggled early on but they responded to adversity really well."
The Raiders (0-2, 0-1 ITCL) fought back from a seven-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to take a 50-48 lead with just over a minute left. However, the Bulldogs tied it on a turnaround shot by Billy Bibby and then stole the ball with 35 seconds left.
After a South Range foul with seven seconds left, the Bulldogs inbounded the ball from under their own basket. Dumbauld circled around a pair of screens, caught the pass from Steve Parker and drained the shot, causing a mob scene at center court.
"We were trying to enter the ball down low to Steve, but it broke down and I wound up getting it," Dumbauld said. "Thank God it went in."
"We told Steve if he was doubled to kick it out and Allen made a great play," McKeown said.
The inside play of Parker allowed the Bulldogs to fight back into the game in the second quarter. After a ragged first frame in which they committed 14 team fouls and trailed by seven, the Bulldogs went on a 17-4 run to take a 29-23 lead a couple of minutes before halftime.
The would lead until late in the fourth. Parker scored 10 points in the second and finished with 11 points and six rebounds. Senior guard Billy Bibby had 20 points and also played a vital role in sparking the rally.
"I told our guys to keep calm," McKeown said "We were caught up in trying to do too much early on and they needed to relax. Billy and Steve both came up huge for us."
It was a tough defeat to swallow for the Raiders who-like the Bulldogs-are trying to sort things out under new head coach John Cullen. Garrett Anderson led the way with 11 points. The Raiders played well at the beginning and end, but could not sustain.
"It hurts right now, and it should hurt," Cullen said. "It's going to take some time for everybody to get on the same page with each other on the court. We really struggled with indecision and court-awareness tonight."
South Range won the jayvee game 31-30. Scott Erb had seven points for the Raiders, Tom Dumbauld had seven for the Bulldogs.
S. RANGE: 19-13- 4-14-50
E. PALESTINE: 12-21-10-10-53
SOUTH RANGE SCORING: Garrett Anderson: 4-3-11, Nick Wiery 2-1-7, Cole Berry 0-0-0, Mark Vannetti 2-1-7, Jonah Wilson 2-1-5, Andrew Cullar 1-3-6, Robbie Matos 2-1-5, Turner Curry 0-0-0, Greg Dunham 3-0-6. TOTALS: 16, 14-25: 50.
EAST PALESTINE SCORING: Nick Monteleone 2-2-6, Billy Bibby 8-3-20, Grant Wagner 1-0-2, Alec Dumbauld 2-4-9, Steve Parker 5-1-11, Colin Reidy 0-0-0, Payton Patterson 1-0-2, Jaret Spratt 1-0-2. Ty Adams 0-0-0. TOTALS: 20, 11-23: 53.
Three-pointers: South Range 4 (Wiery 2, Vennetti 2) East Palestine 2 (Dumbauld, Bibby)