By Drew Sandifer
The Cardinal Ritter Raiders (3-3) edged out a home win over the Hawks of Decatur Central (2-4) 54-53 on a thrilling Wednesday night of Indiana high school basketball. An intense four quarters, it was the Raiders who dealt the fatal blow. Down 2, junior Joey “Gamer” Gruber seized the opportunity of a fallen man and sunk a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Raiders the lead for good. A drive from the Hawks was unsuccessful as the Raiders escaped with a W.
Gruber lead the Raiders with 15 points and shared what he was thinking as he took the winning shot. “Don’t miss it… I thought it was short, and prayed that it would go in. Luckily, it did.” Gruber immediately gave credit to his teammates for fighting through the adversity of the game, and helping him out on the court. Joey’s grade school running mate, “Nasty” Nate Soltis, was big with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Raiders went 10 deep on the night, and every single player made a positive impact on the outcome of the game. “100% confidence in every player to get the job done every single night”, Gruber states and head coach Ron Moore would agree. “I feel confident in our guys as a group. People come in to see Nate, Miles, and Shelby (Turner), and rightfully so, but we are strong as a unit, and with Shelby coming back, I feel we are going to continue to gel and improve as a team.”
The buzz in the gym was one that could only be rivaled with that of a postseason game. Having won an intense and pressure-filled game can only help the Raiders as they work towards cutting down nets in March. “Having lost to 1 to Attucks and having won this game, it definitely helps to know we can pull out those close games”, Gruber confesses. Senior “I Can See For” Miles Tracy agrees saying. “You got to go through the pressure to get better, and now having been through it, I know I’ll do better the next time a situation like that comes up.”
Coach Moore praised his team on fighting through until the end, and knows it will help the team come tourney time by saying, “It definitely had a sectional feel with the 6:00 start time, and I was proud of the way we executed down the stretch to pull out the win.” Running a large bit of point guard with Turner (6 points, 3 steals) easing his way back from injury, Tracy had several reasons to get up for Wednesday’s game. Collegiate coaches gathered to watch him but he doesn’t allow them to affect his game, “I’ve always been a team player and getting these individual achievements doesn’t change that.”
Not only that, but it was a family affair between the Hawks and the Raiders with Miles’ cousins Kenny and Tyrone Tracy scoring 10 and 14 points, respectively and guarding Miles the majority of the minutes on the court. “Now they can’t talk, but I’m just glad we got the win.”