ASHLAND, Ky. – In a game that was as much intriguing as exciting, as close as it was shocking, and as good as it gets for simulation, the new school Tomcats defeated the old school Tomcats.
After an exhausting 22 lead changes and nine ties, the 2015-20 Tomcats withstood a great challenge from the surprising 1955-59 Tomcats, 116-111, Monday night at the old Ashland High School in the quarterfinals of the Tomcat Shootout.
The 1950s Tomcats gave it their best shot, even taking a one-point lead into the fourth quarter behind Larry Castle’s triple-double – the first in the history of the simulation series – with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“Not sure anybody could do more than Larry did,” said teammate Howard Humphreys, who collected 19 points and 14 rebounds. “These young Tomcats are tough and when you add the (Christian) Villers kid with them, man oh man, they’re hard to guard.”
Christian Villers and Colin Porter scored 25 apiece to offset the twin 21-point games from Castle and George Carroll.
“I know we have a lot of shooters, but those guys can put the ball in the basket,” said 2015-20 Tomcat coach Jason Mays. “I’d like to take Castle and Carroll with me to the next round. Humphreys is as tough as they come, too. He knocked us around a little bit inside. We were lucky to win this game.”
The high-scoring Tomcats also had another big game from Cole Villers, who collected 20 points and 19 rebounds.
“Villers, Villers, Villers,” said 1955-59 Tomcat coach Bob Lavoy. “That’s all I heard from (public address announcer) Chuck Rist over there. Those guys are a nightmare.”
It was only double-Villers powered this time. Chase rolled his ankle during the warmups and didn’t play much.
“He could have gone more but we have plenty of players,” Mays said. “I didn’t want to chance it. We will need him in the semifinals.”
In a pulsating first half, the teams were never separated by more than four points. The biggest lead was 42-38 after Robert Wright scored on the end of a fastbreak with a pinpoint pass from Castle, who dazzled with his assists.
Carroll drilled a 17-footer at the buzzer to end the first half for a 60-59 lead for the 1955-59 Tomcats.
“They more than got our attention in the first half,” Mays said. “I don’t know if our guys thought they were going to win this easily or what. But the message was clear at halftime. The 50s Tomcats were here to win.”
Nothing changed in the first two minutes of the second half with the 1950s Cats building a 71-62 lead when Castle head-faked and drove around Justin Bradley, who was trying to keep up with him to no avail.
“We tried a little bit of everything on Castle but nothing seemed to work” Mays said.
Leading 77-68, though, the 50s Tomcats went stone cold.
The 20s Cats went on a 20-10 spurt to regain the lead at 88-87 when Porter drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“Big shot right there,” Mays said.
The lead would go back and forth four times in the fourth quarter. Ethan Hudson, who scored 18 points, dropped in a pair of free throws for a 94-93 and Hunter Mays scored his only basket on a 12-footer to make it 96-93 – a big lead in a game that was tight from buzzer to buzzer.
The 20s Tomcats made it 104-109 after two free throws from Christian Villers at the 3:47 mark – the last points of the game for him.
“Even when we were down five, I thought we had a good chance,” Lavoy said. “One thing we never got the hang of was the 3-point shot. I think we forget about it.”
The 50s Tomcats, who didn’t have the 3-pointer in their day, took only four triples and made one. The 20s Tomcats lived by the triple play and made 6 of 22, a low percentage from them. But they still held an 18-3 lead on 3-pointers, a big difference in the game.
Carroll and Don Church hit back-to-back baskets to cut the deficit to 109-107 with 1:19 remaining. Porter completed a three-point play, surviving a hard foul by Humphreys who came across the lane to clobber him.
“I don’t know how he made that shot,” Humphreys said. “I intended to put him into the wall.”
Porter flung the ball to the basket as he was being hit. The three-point play made it 112-107.
Humpheys scored on a putback and Hudson swished to free throws to make it 114-109. Castle came down and drilled an 18-footer, just inside the 3-point line, to make it 114-111 with only six seconds remaining.
Hudson was fouled again and hit two free throws to set the final score. He made 10 of 16 free throws.
Two strong passing teams combined for 51 assists. The 50s Tomcats had 28, including the 10 from Castle and nine from Carroll, their top two scorers. Porter had nine assists for the 20s Tomcats.
“Porter gave us what we needed,” Mays said. “He was probably our MVP tonight.”
Hudson scored 18, Sellars 12 and Devaunte Robinson 10 as six scored in double figures. Bradley, switching as a defender on Castle and Carroll, managed to pull down 13 rebounds.
The 20s Tomcats await the winner of the quarterfinal game between the 1980-84 and 2000-2004 Tomcats.
2015-2020 TOMCATS (116) – Christian Villers 9-19 6-7 25, Porter 8-14 7-7 25, Robinson 3-9 1-1 10, Cole Villers 9-12 2-2 20, Hudson 4-9 10-16 18, Bradley 1-5 0-0 2, Sellars 6-8 0-0 12, Chase Villers 0-4 0-0 0, Miller 1-4 0-0 2, Mays 1-1 0-0 2. FG: 42-85. FG: 26-33. 3FG: 6-22 (Porter 2-9, Christian Villers 1-5, Robinson 3-4, Bradley 0-1, Chase Villers 0-1, Miller 0-2). Rebounds: 55 (Porter 5, Christian Villers 4, Robinson 4, Cole Villers 19, Hudson 2, Bradley 13, Sellars 4, Chase Villers 4). Assists: 23 (Porter 9, Christian Villers 6, Cole Villers 1, Hudson 4, Bradley 2, Sellars 1). PF: 15. Turnovers: 14.
1955-59 TOMCATS (111) – Kazee 5-9 0-0 11, Castle 9-19 3-4 21, Carroll 10-17 1-1 21, Meeks 0-0 0-0 0, Humphreys 9-19 1-4 19, Church 5-7 3-4 13, Patton 3-6 2-3 8, Griffith 5-9 2-2 12, Campbell 1-7 0-0 2, Wright 1-5 0-0 2. FG: 49-99. FT: 12-18. 3FG: 1-4 (Kazee 1-2, Castle 0-1, Carroll 0-1). Rebounds: 47 (Kazee 1, Castle 10, Carroll 6, Meeks 1, Humphreys 14, Church 2, Patton 3, Griffith 5, Campbell 1, Wright 2). Assists: 28 (Kazee 6, Castle 10, Carroll 7, Humphreys 2, Church 1, Campbell 1, Wright 1). PF: 26. Turnovers: 13.
2015-2020 TOMCATS 32 28 28 28 – 116
1955-59 TOMCATS 31 28 30 22 – 111