When Shane Gatling’s body hit the floor behind the basket, he immediately thought of the 10-letter word no athlete wants to hear. A word seemingly more prevalent every day because of professional athletes and now actors like Will Smith.
“I was scared,” Gatling said. “I thought I would have a concussion or something like that, but thankfully I didn’t have one.”
Thankfully for him, and thankfully for Baldwin as the Bruins needed him to erase a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat Half Hollow Hills West, 77-60, in the Baldwin Tournament boys basketball championship Tuesday night.
Gatling’s injury occurred in the second quarter and he returned after sitting for a few minutes. He said he felt “fine, nothing really happened.” His play could be described as spectacular as he finished with 25 points and the tournament MVP.
At halftime, it seemed like Tuesday wasn’t going to be Baldwin’s night. Half Hollow Hills West looked more physical, energetic and — to put it bluntly — more talented than the tremendous Bruins lineup.
“I felt like in the first half we came out really lousy,” Jared Rhoden said. “Coach was pissed at halftime and he told me to keep shooting the ball. I mean, individually, I was off but my team was playing pretty good, pretty all right but in the second half we picked it up, played harder and the momentum shifted to our side.”
Rhoden rebounded from a difficult first half to score 14 of his 18 points in the final two quarters. Rhoden hit back-to-back three-pointers after a Jabeon Bivins layup to begin a 20-2 run in which the Bruins took their first lead since 5-4 in the first quarter.
“It was all in my head,” said Rhoden of his early struggles. “Once I missed a couple of shots I let it get in my head but I had to keep shooting. My teammates look for me because I’m one of the best shooters on the team so they continuously look for me to shoot the ball.”
Specifically, Gatling told him not to change his aggression.
“I told him keep shooting it because it was going in and out so one of them had to fall,” Gatling said. “And one fell and then more and more fell and it kept going.”
The Bruins rode Gatling and Rhoden — who combined for 21 of the team’s 28 third-quarter points — as they took a 54-45 lead after three quarters.
“I told my team that I’m not losing another game for the rest of the season,” Gatling said, “so I did whatever I could to win the game.”