UNIONTOWN — Drue Giles swished his first of two free throws and received more than the usual share of applause.
Tuesday’s game between Westminster and Francis Scott Key paused to recognize Giles, now a senior for the Owls who played his first two years of high school hoops at FSK, for reaching 1,000 career points. Fans inside Key’s Louis V. Beard Memorial Gymnasium cheered Giles, and the Eagles presented him with a game ball for his achievement.
When the game resumed, Giles went right back to his primary focus — figuring out a way to fend off his former team. The point guard did enough to help Westminster notch a road victory, 62-57, and get the Owls to 10 wins on the season.
But Giles said doing so was anything but easy.
“My goal really wasn’t to get 1,000 points,” he said. “I just did whatever I could do to help my teammates win. … Coach [Brett Kanther] said before the game, every time you play a team [twice], it’s always the hardest time. And Key, they play really good at home. All the time.”
The Owls (10-4, 6-1 in the Carroll County Athletic League) got 14 points from Giles and a team-high 18 from junior guard Michael Prozeller. Joe Wright scored 13 and Christian Etchison added 10 to go with seven rebounds.
Giles handed out four assists, but his scoring milestone carried the day.
He came into Tuesday’s contest with 988 career points, and scored six in the first quarter. Giles had 11 by halftime, but missed a pair of 3-pointers in the second frame and came up short on his first shot of the third.
Drawing a foul while shooting put him on the line with 4 minutes, 51 seconds to play in the quarter, and Giles sank the free throw to reach 1,000 points. Westminster needed the offense, however — Francis Scott Key (4-12, 1-7) led 40-36 when Giles went to shoot.
The Owls closed the third quarter on an 11-2 run, and led 49-43.
A turnaround jump shot from Etchison followed by a 3-pointer from Prozeller put Westminster up by nine points, and the visitors led by 10 with 82 seconds remaining before FSK tried to mount a last-minute rally.
Kyle Williams and Liam McGrath each sank 3-pointers in the final 35 seconds, and Ryan Rill converted a layup off a turnover. but the Eagles couldn’t complete the comeback.
Senior forward Noah Vipond led the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds, and McGrath finished with 15 points. Rill, a freshman, had 12 points and five boards.
“For these kids, it’s about taking a step every day,” said Key coach Ryan Kimble, whose team won three of its last four before Tuesday. “That team beat us by 31 [on Dec. 18] … We had 17 turnovers, we’ve got to cut that down. That’s just youth going up against Westminster’s press. We’ve got to cut our turnovers to get out of moral victory and get into victory.”
Kimble coached Giles from 2015-17, and said he was proud to see his former player achieve his feat.
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“The Giles family is very special to me. Drue is very special to me,” Kimble said. “I wish he’d have done it in FSK blue instead of Westminster blue, but that’s OK.”
Westminster won for the seventh time in eight games, and heads home for a pivotal CCAL clash Friday against Century (11-3, 7-1). Putting in plenty of work Tuesday to get ready was fine with Kanther.
“I was really happy with how our bench contributed … I think 26 points tonight, so that was a good thing,” Kanther said. “You want to get a win however we get it, and then move on.”
Westminster (62): Drue Giles 14, Terrence McDonald 4, Denio Blaney 2, Joe Wright 13, Jacob Busic 1, Michael Prozeller 18, Christian Etchison 10.
Francis Scott Key (57): Zach Malott 4, Jake Wantz 2, Ryan Rill 12, Travis Williams 3, Liam McGrath 15, Noah Vipond 16, Kyle Williams 3, Kyle Hoeflich 2.
Halftime: Westminster, 36-34.
JV result: Westminster, 56-35.