Senior Bob Cummins scored 32 points, including two key free throws with 13 seconds left, to lead Whitman to a 58-56 victory over Einstein in a Montgomery AA game last night at Einstein.
It was the season opener for both teams and the first game for Einstein in Class AA. Last year, the Titans were 20-4 in Class A and lost in the regional final.
"It could've gone either way," Einstein Coach Paul Kane said. "We had our chances to win it, but we made some mistakes. To be in a position to win against a team like Whitman late in the game is a credit to our kids."
Trailing, 56-54, the Titans had four chances to tie it in the final 1:28. But they traveled, twice missed the front end of a one-and-one and had a desperation shot at the buzzer go astray.
Cummins, who has started since his freshman year, had 16 points in each half, including three three-point shots. His two free throws with 13 seconds left made it 58-54. After Einstein's Ed Gagain scored with two seconds left, the Titans stole the inbounds pass and Mark Wheatle's off-balance, 21-footer hit the backboard.
"We have a long way to go. We made a lot of mistakes and we were lucky to hold on and win this," Whitman Coach Marty Dickerson said.
The biggest lead for either team was five points, that coming on Wheatle's layup and free throw at the start of the fourth quarter, making it 50-45. But the Titans managed only six points the rest of the way.
The Vikings went ahead for good with 2:25 left. Cummins hit one of two free throws to make it 53-52, and on the second shot sophomore Al Boggs grabbed the rebound, scored, was fouled and hit the free throw. The Titans got no closer than two after that.
Einstein had a 47-45 lead after three quarters as Wheatle and Pele Mjenga combined for 17 of the Titans' 19 points in the period. Mjenga's three-pointer from the top of the key to end the period gave Einstein a two-point lead. Cummins had eight points in the quarter.
Wheatle led the Titans with 16 points and A.J. Hoff added 14.
In the first half, the biggest lead for either team was three by Whitman at 14-11 when Boggs hit the first of two free throw attempts and Cummins converted on an offensive rebound after the second free throw. Einstein tied it at the end of the first quarter on Wheatle's layup and free throw with five seconds left.
The Titans took a three-point lead, 20-17, midway in the second quarter on Hoff's 16-footer from the right side. After four ties, Whitman went ahead when Cummins buried a 15-foot baseline jumper with one second left in the half to put the Vikings ahead, 29-28.
Cummins had 16 points in the first half to lead the Vikings, and Hoff had 10 for Einstein. Whitman converted on only two of seven free throws.