WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Postseason basketball calls for big shots and crucial plays as the spotlight intensifies, and the Nitro boys team delivered in a tight-knit contest at Winfield on Wednesday.
Nitro seniors Angelo Sirianni and Ethan Clark posted the game-deciding shots in the final minute of a back-and-forth contest as the Wildcats prevailed in Class AAA Region 4 sectional play, 63-60.
"That's tournament basketball," Nitro coach Bryan Faber said of the 'tough-it-out' win. "You grind out stops and you grind out tough possessions."
The Wildcats (11-12) and Generals (14-9) battled throughout and the lead exchanged hands several times. With the game tied 59-59, Nitro's seniors delivered the necessary clutch plays to secure victory.
First, Sirianni drove the lane to score with 28 seconds remaining after Nitro passed the ball around the perimeter.
Winfield missed on its ensuing shot opportunity and Nitro held the ball for an inbounds play with 8.8 seconds left.
Wildcats guard J.P. Mawyer passed from the sideline to Clark streaking toward the Nitro basket. Clark collected the pass and beat his man to the basket for a layup and four-point lead with 5 seconds to go.
Generals guard Zach Fisher was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 0.7 seconds remaining. Fisher made the first, but missed the next two, and time expired on Winfield's season.
"We battled. We took the lead, had chances," Winfield coach Pat McGinnis said, "but Nitro hit the big shots when they needed to."
After trailing by nine at halftime, the Generals rebounded to out-score the Wildcats 24-12 in the third quarter. During the run, junior forward Chris Turner dominated inside against Nitro's smaller lineup and eventually finished with a game-high 24 points.
"I was doing what coach told me to do and trying to help my team as best I could," Turner said. "It just wasn't enough, I guess."
Turner scored the first points of the fourth quarter to give Winfield its largest lead at 47-42, though Nitro quickly tied it with a Sirianni 3-pointer, followed by a Clark steal and score.
"We just dug down, dug down and got some stops, played defense and we converted those into transition points," Sirianni said.
Turner hit two free throws to give the Generals a brief two-point advantage, but another Sirianni 3-pointer and Clark steal and score put Nitro ahead three with less than six minutes to play.