Gavin McTavish was struggling to score and the South Carroll boys basketball team was not exactly lighting up the scoreboard.
Sounds like the Cavaliers were cruising to a blowout loss at the hands of Westminster. But, it wasn't quite going down that way.
Playing tenacious defense, the Cavs stayed close enough to strike at the end when it mattered. Charging up the court with the ball in his hands, senior point guard Tyler Alcid pulled up near the foul line to launch a jumper.
Getting the shot barely over the outstretched arm of Darius Clifton, Alcid buried it with nine seconds remaining on the clock to give the Cavs a 36-35 win over the host Owls on Tuesday night.
"The second half the defense was very good. We made a bunch of mistakes in the first half and turned the ball over which doesn't allow us to play defense," Cavs coach Doug Goff said. "We are going to make some mistakes, but we hit shots in the second half and took care of the ball a little bit better."
Both squads turned in a sloppy first half, but the Owls held a 23-13 lead at halftime. Getting nine first-half points from Devan Curet - including a pair of 3-pointers - the Owls seemed to be in control of the game.
They held McTavish to just five points on 2 for 9 shooting through the first two periods. Often being doubled with the ball down near the basket, McTavish forced several shots that were out of character for him.
"We were trying to make him uncomfortable and I think we did that," Owls coach Steve Byrnes said. "He made some shots here and there, but I think for the most part, defensively we did a pretty good job."
McTavish ended up registering a game-high 13 points and saved his biggest bucket for the final stages of the fourth quarter. A pair of Alcid free throws got the Cavs within one at 33-32 and after a defensive stop, McTavish missed a 3 on the ensuing possession.
But showing his alertness, the senior darted into the lane, corralled the rebound and banked home a short shot to give the Cavs a 34-33 lead. Running about 30 seconds off the clock, the Cavs were controlling the ball with less than a minute remaining.
Resisting the urge to foul, the Owls (4-1, 2-1 county) played tight defense and Darius Clifton knocked the ball away, grabbed it and finished on the other end for his only two points of the night and the Owls were up 35-34 with 40 seconds remaining.
Then it was the Cavs' (3-1, 2-1) chance to turn the heat up on defense as they got the steal and Alcid buried the jumper.
"We pride ourselves on our defense. That's how we want to play. Whether or not the shots are falling we got to keep playing [defense]," Alcid said. "I was just trying to take a good shot. Coach stresses taking good shots and I was trying to get as close as I could."
Tasked with the challenge of playing three county opponents before the winter break, both the Owls and the Cavaliers emerged with two victories and some momentum for the new year.
Although Goff isn't necessarily a huge fan of playing so many county games this early in the season, he understands it isn't something his team can change.
"You still have to play the games, even if you don't like it," Goff said. "If you had told me we would come out of this stretch with two wins, I would have been happy with that."
South Carroll (36): Gavin McTavish 13, Tyler Alcid 8, Phil Breno 4, Jack Quinn 4, Austin Stup 3, Logan Cook 2, Matthew Dee 2.
Westminster (35): Devan Curet 9, Nick Ellison 6, Dalton Myers 6, Zach Meads 6, Connor Lulay 4, Darius Clifton 2, Ryan Gomes 2.
Halftime: Westminster, 23-13.