Topper's clutch free throw lifts Littlestown
Brady Topper discusses his game-winning free throw Saturday against Bermudian Springs.
The senior made the winning shot with two seconds left
A bloody nose was the second-most strenuous thing to happen to Brady Topper Saturday.
The Littlestown senior sustained the injury in the fourth quarter of a home game against Bermudian Springs. Minutes after he returned, he found himself in a situation every basketball player dreams about. He went to the free-throw line in a tied game with just two seconds remaining.
"Definitely being on the free-throw line," Topper said when asked what was tougher. "I knew my team was behind me. All I had to do was knock one down."
Topper didn't make things easy on himself by missing the first shot. But with the outcome of the game riding on the second attempt, he drained it to give Littlestown a dramatic 35-34 win.
The only senior on Littlestown's roster, Topper was coach Scott Motter's ideal choice to be in that situation. Motter said he never doubted his captain would make at least one, even after the first attempt came up short.
"What we were talking about in the huddle was after he made the shots what defense we were getting into, not if he misses," Motter said. "I had full confidence. I expected him to make both, and, quite honestly, that first one rolls around the rim a little bit and could have dropped in either way.
"He's our senior. All of us, coaches and players, are doing this for our senior. And tonight he got to help himself."
While Topper's late free throw was the only point he scored in the second half, it was far from the only big play he made during the game. Along with 10 first-half points, the guard also came through with assists and steals when the Thunderbolts (2-2) needed it.
That's why the tension on Littlestown's sideline seemed to double when Topper took an elbow to the face with 3:18 to play and Littlestown up four. Although it only took a few possessions for Topper to get back on the court, it felt like an eternity to Motter.
"I couldn't wait for him to get back in the gym," Motter said. "When he was cleaning the blood off his shirt I was about to tell him to just grab another shirt because I wanted him out on the floor. In big moments like that we need him out there."
For most of the evening, it didn't seem like Littlestown would need any late heroics. While Bermudian Springs kept the game close during the first half, the Thunderbolts closed out the third quarter with a 7-2 run to lead Bermudian (0-5) by eight points to start the fourth quarter.
Led by senior Quinton Nace, the Eagles would claw their way back. Nace finished the game with a game-high 18 points, including the layup that tied the game, 34-34, before Topper stole the moment with his clutch free throw.
"They played Bermudian basketball, which is sound basketball," Motter said. "That's a credit to coach (Tom) Flaherty. We knew this was going to be a battle tonight."
Bermudian Springs (34)
Quinton Nace 8 2-3 18, Petrosky 3 0-0 6, Hoke 2 1-1 6, Kasulin 1 2-2 4 Staub 0 0-0 0, Long 0 0-0 0, Byers 0 0-0 0. Totals — 14 5-6 34.
Brady Topper 4 2-6 11, Logan Collins 4 0-0 10, Pittinger 2 0-0 4, A. Eyler 2 0-0 5, B. Eyler 1 0-0 3, Barthel 0 2-2 2, Noble 0 0-0 0. Totals — 13 4-8 35.
Bermudian Springs _ 6 _ 8 _ 6 _ 14 _ — _ 34
Littlestown _ 7 _ 12 _ 9 _ 7 _ — _ 35
3-point goals — Lt 5 (Collins 2, Topper, A. Eyler, B. Eyler). BS 1 (Hoke).