Andrew Mason’s 19 lead Webster Thomas to 51-50 win over Brockport

Andrew Mason shoots a technical foul shot at the start of Wednesday’s game. (Photo: BILLY HEYEN)

By BILLY HEYEN

WEBSTER, N.Y. — Webster Thomas guard Dannie Palmer stepped to the foul line with 2.8 seconds to play on Wednesday and the Titans trailing by a point. He drained the first attempt but then had to sit through a Brockport timeout before shooting the potential go-ahead shot. Through that pressure, Webster Thomas star Andrew Mason had no doubts what the result of the second free throw would be.

“I was 100 percent confident in him,” Mason said. “Right when he stepped to the line, I knew they were going in. We work on free throws every day in practice, and I had no doubt in my mind when he stepped to the line.”

Brockport (8-5) was unable to get up a shot in the final seconds, so Webster Thomas (6-6) pulled out a 51-50 home win. The victory marks the second in-a-row for the Titans, which were led by 19 points from Mason and 11 from Jackson Kulik. Despite the Blue Devils overcoming an early deficit, Webster Thomas scored the game’s final seven points to win.

“We’ve got some confidence now,” Kulik said. “We’re just gonna keep going and keep winning the next games.”

Early on, Webster Thomas looked like it might run away with Wednesday’s game. The Titans were on the board immediately on two Mason technical free throws due to a Brockport uniform number issue. Then, Mason hit a 3-pointer while Kulik hit two 3s of his own to take a 15-4 lead.

Kulik added a drive and floater before the first quarter ended to hold an 18-6 edge, and Mason hit a 3-pointer off a Kulik pass to expand it to 21-6 on the first make of the second quarter.

“I felt confident,” Kulik said. “My shots were falling, so I just kept taking them.”

After the Titans opened up that 15-point lead, they only tallied one point in the remaining six or so minutes of the second quarter. That allowed the Blue Devils to work their way back into the game.

Mason didn’t think the Titans were taking bad shots. Brockport slid into help position more frequently while defending Mason and prevented Kulik from the wide open looks he’d gotten in the first quarter. By the halftime break, the Blue Devils had closed the half on a 14-1 run to trail, 22-20.

“We were getting good looks,” Mason said. “We started off hot in the first half and we cooled off, obviously in the second quarter, but we kept battling.”

Brockport found its perimeter scoring early in the second half. Esten Schlage hit three stepback 3-pointers. His fellow guard, Sam Velletri, nailed a 3 from the top of the arc before completing a three-point play after a foul on a lefty scoop shot in the lane.

By the time the fourth quarter was more than halfway complete, with the shot clock winding down, Brockport’s Troy Leibert fired up a prayer with the shot clock expiring. It banked home, a long 2 to put the Blue Devils up, 50-44, with 3:14 to play.

Following a Titans free throw for Tyler Williams, Mason scored on a left-handed reverse inside to get within three. Then, as the game clock wound down to less than a minute, Mason drove right.

Mason took an initial step as he picked up his dribble, then hopped toward a mass of three defenders. In traffic, Mason flipped the ball up and in off the backboard, pulling Webster Thomas within a point, 50-49.

“I knew the shot clock was running down,” Mason said, “and I had to do something to create for us. I know we needed a basket. I just did whatever I could, and luckily they didn’t call the travel and I banked it in.”

A defensive stop set up the Titans with a chance to take the lead. On Webster Thomas’ first sequence, Mason freed up for a 3-point attempt from the right wing. It rattled in-and-out, but senior center Evan Mitchell smacked the ball back out where Mason corralled it. 

Following a Titans timeout, the play they wanted broke down, Mason said. Again, he looked to create. But he was hounded by multiple defenders and eventually passed off to Palmer. Palmer’s initial shot was blocked, but in a loose-ball scramble, Palmer was fouled. That’s when he went to the line and calmly drained both his foul shots to take the lead.

Three timeouts were called before the ensuing inbounds, which ricocheted off the ceiling to give the ball back to Webster Thomas. The Titans missed two free throws before the final buzzer sounded.

Maybe the final offensive set hadn’t played out as the Titans drew it up. Surely the scoring sequence, from a 21-6 lead to a 50-44 deficit in the fourth quarter, didn’t happen how they’d wanted, either. But as Mason pointed out postgame, it’s only the final scoreboard that matters.

“We ended up coming back and getting the win,” Mason said, “which is the most important thing.”

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