Each time they laced up their shoes this year they thought they were going to win. Eighteen games later, the Falcons finally did.
Constantine’s 50-28 home victory Tuesday over White Pigeon ended a season-long drought that might have crushed the competitive spirit of most squads. Instead, the Falcons, growing more determined with each passing loss, synchronized a collection of quality parts that had been working independently previously.
Defensively, Constantine made White Pigeon’s Mitchell Moore operate outside of his comfort zone, forcing the playmaker to chuck deep balls. On the offensive end, the backcourt handled pressure and kept feeding 6-foot-3 junior forward Cody Ley, who finished with a game-high 15 points and nine rebounds.
The Chiefs closed the gap to 20-15 by halftime, but the Falcons made a decision in the third quarter to not let their first win slip away, outscoring their opponent 15-5. A 15-8 advantage in the in the fourth quarter sealed it for the home team.
“We got the ball inside to Cody and we were patient and took good shots,” Constantine coach Chuck Frisbie said. “We shot 69 percent in the second half; if you do that you’re going to give yourself a pretty good chance. We were just patient on offense. Even with their pressure we didn’t get sped up like we have at various times this year. We stayed under control and made good passes.
“I thought Joey and Cody did a great job of keeping Mitchell Moore out of the lane. All his shots were primarily 3-pointers. They did a nice job of stopping his drive tonight. They dug and dug and dug. We got a lot of loose balls and rebounds. More than anything, Cody controlled the paint for us tonight on both ends of the floor. When he does that on a consistent basis we’re a lot better anyway. And the guards played well, too.”
Ley has been one of the most outspoken players on the team when it came to truly believing success was just around the corner. The Falcons had every reason to believe that despite a growing pile of defeats. In 14 of its previous 17 games, Constantine was within four points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just about bouncing back,” he said. “Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up. And of course our rivalry definitely gave us some extra motivation. Every one was on the same page tonight and we worked our ever- living tails off. We know our ability and I feel confident in my team and our work ethic. Just trying to get on a roll coming into playoffs.”
For Luhk Mullendore, the only senior on the team, Tuesday’s breakthrough was especially sweet.
“It felt great. We came together as a team and worked together,” he said after scoring six points.
“He’s a great leader,” Frisbie said of Mullendore. “He could have started [complaining], but he never [complained]. He just kept working his tail off. He’s a great kid. I know it had to have been frustrating for him because it’s his senior year and he’d like to see a lot more wins than what we’ve had.”
Perry White finished with a 13-point, four-rebound performance, Jon Doering added three points, and Anthony Bontrager and Austin Kinser each pitched in two points.
Moore notched 13 points for White Pigeon (8-10), while Riley Olsen, Dylan Hochstetler and Mike Crowl each contributed four. Jarrett Miller and David Miller finished with two and one, respectively.