On Friday night, Wes-Del took on the Eastbrook Panthers. Before the game started, each Warrior walked across the court with their grandparents. Wes-Del head coach John McGlothin thought that was the only ceremony taking place.
The PA announcer then told the crowd that coach Mcglothin would be retiring following the end of this season. Then numerous former players and coaches walked through the gymnasium doors to hug and talk to the 30-year career coach.
“Seeing some of those guys I haven't seen in 15, 20 or 25 years is special,” he said. “It's something I won't forget. The picture I will probably have framed at some point.”
On the night of ceremonies, the Warriors (8-9, 4-5 Mid-Eastern) were able to seal the victory after defeating the visitors 52-46.
After the opening minutes, it was clear that these two squads would fight for every opportunity. The only issue for the Warriors was the officials' whistles. After the first quarter, they had been given five fouls, which was four more than the Panthers.
McGlothin said he had to change the game plan during that stretch.
“We had to go down to about our eighth and ninth guy and have them play a lot of minutes,” he said. “Maybe they’re used to playing in short segments and they have to play a lot more minutes. You're just hoping that you've worked enough in practice and I thought our guys did a good job of just keeping the ship right.”
Even after cleaning up the foul issues, the Warriors and Panthers could not separate themselves from the other. After the first half, the biggest lead was a five-point advantage for the Panthers.
One player shined for the home squad. During the first half, sophomore Josiah Love scored 11 points and finished the contest with 25. To Love, he said it was for his coach.
“It was just good for coach,” Love said. “He really needed that.”
Even when the team struggled with fouls, Love said he did not let that phase his performance.
“Just keep playing and just play through it,” he said. “They're not going to stop. If they’re not giving you calls, just keep going.”
One thing that both contestants did well was their 3-point shooting. Whenever the trailing team needed a basket, it seemed that they would hit a deep shot. The Warriors hit six while the Panthers hit eight.
But with two minutes left, the Warriors took a five-point lead. McGlothin made sure his team knew what to do.
“Take care of the stinking ball,” he said. “We were trying to run our sprint offense there and they were gonna come out. They still had fouls to give so we were trying to get a lot of back cut action.”
With that lead, Wes-Del was able to capture the win with free throw shots to ice the game. McGlothin said he knows that his coaching days are beginning to come to a close.
“For the guys I'm coaching, it has to be business as usual at practice and stuff,” he said. “But for me, it's bittersweet to know the end is coming. I've enjoyed every minute of it, but it's just time for me to move on. But for thirty years, it's been great.”
The Warriors are down to their final four regular season games before sectionals start. For their next game, they will travel to face Muncie Burris on Thursday, Feb. 16.