Bill Gibbs briefly held a three-point pose near his bench, softly high-fived teammates and shuffled to the back of the handshake line after Friday night’s basketball game.
The Seabury Academy shooting guard’s perfectly timed, buzzer-beating turn-around three-pointer from 35 feet had just dropped through the net, but only a relatively bland celebration ensued.
All the shot did was put a cherry on top of an otherwise unsavory fourth quarter.
Seabury Academy’s boys basketball team lost, 55-46, at home to Wichita Word of Life, the result of a worn-down Seahawks starting five and 35 turnovers.
First-year Seabury coach Mike “Scoop” Harding played his five starters — Gibbs, Reed Grabill, Gus Wigen-Toccalino, Skylar Malone and Evan Sloan — for nearly the entire contest.
“It’s tough,” Harding said. “That’s why we try to run a lot in practice: get them in shape.”
Harding attempted to save his starting five from foul trouble and fatigue, slowing the game down by playing a 2-3 zone against the athletic Fire.
“They didn’t want to play at our pace, and we didn’t want to play at their pace,” Gibbs said. “It made for a real aggressive game.”
Gibbs, the team’s leading scorer, was held to one made field goal and four points in the first half, while the team committed 18 turnovers.
Still, the Seahawks headed to the halftime break trailing just 27-25, having led until the final minutes of the half.
“I think we shocked them,” Harding said. “I think they thought they had an easy cakewalk. We just couldn’t hold on.”
The Seahawks displayed Friday that this is a much stronger unit than last year’s team that won just three games all season.
Seabury (4-2) already has surpassed last season’s win total.
“Scoop’s brought some new stuff to this team,” Grabill said of the Seahawks’ rookie coach. “A lot of the stuff he’s shown is working, so we’ve just got to keep up this effort all the way through the season.”
In the third quarter, Gibbs nailed a pair of three-pointers, and Grabill — who finished with 14 points — added two layups to help Seabury enter the fourth locked in a 36-all tie.
But turnovers, foul trouble and fatigue came back to bite Seabury in the backside.
Word of Life forward Alex Battle followed a layup by stealing the inbounds pass, quickly putting in another layup for a 40-36 Fire lead to start the fourth quarter. Those layups fueled a 17-4 run over the next six minutes, as the Seahawks continued to rack up turnovers, and both Grabill and Malone fouled out.
Gibbs — who scored 25 points in each of his team’s last three games — led the Seahawks with 16 points. He nailed two three-pointers in the final minute Friday, including his buzzer-beating bomb from deep, to trim the final deficit to single digits.