Kingsley leads Hawks over Wildcats

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Woodland sophomore Tanner Kingsley scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Hawks to a 58-56 overtime win over Seymour on Tuesday night. FILE PHOTO
SEYMOUR — It wasn’t pretty, but it’s a win. And boy, was it exciting.

Woodland sophomore guard Tanner Kingsley scored a career-high 29 points, including a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime and four free throws in the extra frame to ice the contest, to lead the Hawks to a 58-56 win over Seymour on Tuesday night.

Kingsley came through when his team needed it most. In a back-and-forth game, the Hawks (2-1) found themselves trailing, 46-43, with less than 20 seconds to play in regulation.

After a timeout, Woodland coach Tom Hunt and his staff drew up a give-and-go play from out of bounds in hopes of tying the game. Kingsley inbounded to Billy Alfiere, who returned a pass to Kingsley for the game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left.

Woodland had a chance to win the game in regulation after a Seymour travel turned over the ball with six seconds to play. But Kingsley threw the inbounds pass out of bounds to squander the opportunity. The Hawks buckled down on defense to force a stop and send the game to overtime.

In the extra period, Alfiere hit a 3-pointer on the opening possession to give Woodland a 49-46 lead before Dave Alves hit a layup off an underneath assist by Kingsley to make it a 51-46 edge.

Seymour went on a 7-2 run to tie the game with 1:53 to play, but a second-chance layup by Dave Uhl put Woodland back ahead at 55-53 with a minute and a half left.

Kingsley and Uhl combined to hit three of four free throws over the last 71 seconds to keep the Hawks ahead until the final buzzer.

Although Kingsley was the only Hawk in double-figure scoring, Hunt was impressed by the whole team’s resolve.

“That’s a character builder,” Hunt said. “I said at the beginning of the year that we had one returning starter and four guys coming to fill roles. We’re still not sure exactly what those roles are, but when you have character you’re able to come into a hostile environment like this and get a win.”

The team’s inexperienced showed at times with costly turnovers in the second half and overtime that allowed Seymour to stay close in the game. There were 16 lead changes and seven ties.

“We had some bad turnovers in spots late in the game that we should have been more careful with,” Hunt said. “But this is a young team and that’s what practice is for.”

Kingsley was splendid throughout the game. He scored 14 of the team’s 16 points in helping the Hawks to a 16-13 first-quarter lead. Kingsley had 16 at the half as Woodland led, 25-21.

After staying relatively quiet in the second and third periods, where he scored just four combined points, he turned it up again in the fourth.

Two jumpers in the lane to start the quarter kept the Hawks ahead before his clutch 3-pointer sent the game to overtime. There, he hit all four free throws in key situations to propel Woodland to a win.

“He’s just a kid that thrives on the situation,” Hunt said. “He wants the ball any time there’s pressure and the game is on the line. I have no more faith in anyone else to step to the line when the game is up in the air.”

With Alfiere and Dan Giacomazzi in foul trouble throughout the night, Alves filled in with quality bench minutes and scored five points in the fourth quarter and overtime. He also grabbed a number of momentum-keeping rebounds.

“He brings enthusiasm and excitement,” Hunt said. “He has the mentality that anything that comes off the glass is his. I think the kids feed off his energy.”

Woodland plays Derby Thursday before hosting the first-ever Candy Cane Classic on Tuesday and Wednesday.