Coming off a two-week COVID-19 pause, Battle had a game to remember in its final regular-season matchup, defeating Macon 97-95 in overtime Thursday.
The game gave a special moment to sophomore Ethan Wiley, who grabbed the rebound and scored the game-winning putback with 5.3 seconds left. Wiley grew up in Macon, and his mom played for the Tigers, making that last shot just a little sweeter.
Senior guard Cachao Gianquinto was honored prior to the game for reaching 1,000 points in his Battle career. Though the milestone was reached in January, this was the Spartans’ first home game since. Headed into the game, Gianquinto was one of three Spartans in the Battle 1,000-point club.
By the end of the night, Gianquinto was one of four. Teammate Tristan Meny joined him on a 3 midway through the second quarter, part of his 19-point evening.
On a night for records and recognition, Battle took some time to find its footing after its long layoff, giving the Tigers a 16-9 lead after the first quarter.
From there, both offenses exploded.
By the time halftime hit, Battle held a 43-39 lead. Despite the Battle offense finding its groove, Macon continued to hit the Spartans in transition. Much of the Tigers’ second quarter was spent launching full-court passes and finding easy layups after leaking out following missed shots.
The sloppy play was uncharacteristic for the Spartans, something that coach Brian Meny said was partly due to the long break.
“I’m not gonna make excuses, but, yes” Meny said.
The third quarter was the same story. Battle put up points, but the Tigers continued to hang around. In the fourth, Macon had taken a late 79-77 lead and was pressing the inbounds pass. Cachao Gianquinto tried to push the ball back to Isaiah Johnson to clear space. The only problem was Johnson still had his foot on the baseline.
The ball was given back to Macon, and Battle was forced to start fouling to extend the game. At 85-79, it seemed the contest was out of reach.
Gianquinto was able to reel the Tigers back in.
He hit a quick 3 to cut the lead in half before Macon finally missed a free throw, giving Battle a chance to chip away. Gianquinto made it 86-84 before one more missed free throw gave Battle the ball down three with 6.3 seconds left. Sophomore Latrell James Lee drove quickly and found Gianquinto in the corner, who knocked down the game-tying 3-pointer with a hand in his face.
Gianquinto added four points in overtime to reach 30 on the night.
“That’s what Cachao is,” Meny said, “That type of player, we all wish he was healthy all year. But tonight he showed what he was when healthy.”
Lee put up 18 and James Goolsby had 16 before fouling out with 6:59 left in the game to round out the scoring for Battle.