PADEN CITY - Drew Bidwell found a wide-open Brandon Cross with 24 seconds left as the sophomore dropped in an uncontested layup to give Paden City a 54-52 victory against visiting Williamstown.
"This is a learning situation," Wildcats coach Fred King said. "We have to learn how to come from behind and win games."
When a Zach Heasley buzzer-beater ended the first half, Paden City (6-2) found itself trailing, 33-22, after allowing the Yellow Jackets (3-4) to finish the period on a 16-2 run.
"I thought the tempo in the first half is where we wanted it," Williamstown coach Scott Savro said. "We were trying to move the ball faster because they do a good job of playing at a slow pace. They run a very good offense. We wanted to make sure the game was at a faster pace so they couldn't run all those man sets."
The Yellow Jackets' full-court press was able to slow the Wildcats offense almost to a screeching halt after the hosts had run out to an early 7-1 lead.
"It did until we made some adjustments," King said of the Williamstown defense. "We weren't going where we were supposed to be going. We weren't creating space for ourselves and the kids panicked. I call it 'fetal position' basketball because they go with what they feel comfortable with and that's just hectic."
Paden City started the second half much like it did the first, going on a 12-2 run to tie the score at 37-37 on a Heasley layup with 28 seconds remaining in the third.
Heasley began the final period with a 3-pointer as the hosts regained the lead, 40-39, and stretched the margin to six at 49-43 before Jarrick Hoskins hit a 3-pointer to get the Yellow Jackets back within three.
Following a Hoskins mid-range jumper, Williamstown found itself only down two and watched a Dakota Watson layup tie the game at 52-52.
After Bidwell's full-court pass to Cross, the Yellow Jackets simply ran out of time trying to decide who would take the final shot.
"We came in (the second half), got it down to single digits, and I told the guys stay calm and take it one play at a time," King said. "Now we just have to learn how to win basketball games."
Another thing the Wildcats will have to learn is how to get their grove back from the free throw line. After starting out the season at 71 percent, Paden City is now down to 62 percent from the charity strip and went 16 of 29 in Wednesday night's victory.
Hoskins led the visitors with 15 points, all coming from beyond the 3-point line, while Josh Debolt and Landon Travis finished with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Heasley just missed a double-double for Paden City as he finished his night with 16 points and nine rebounds. The sophomore also dished out four assists.
Freshman Luke Cooper continued his impressive rookie campaign with 17 points, seven boards and two steals, while Kennedy Cain chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.
Bidwell, the lone senior of the team, ended the night with six points.