INDIANOLA, Iowa – Dillon Gretzky knows how to make a good first impression.
Making his first career start, the freshman hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:53 left and secured a key rebound in the closing seconds as the Simpson men's basketball team got a much-needed 75-70 win over Central on Wednesday night.
Gretzky – who finished with six points after coming into the night without a varsity point – secured a long rebound off a Spencer Bakerink miss with eight seconds left, starting a fast-break that ended with an emphatic, two-hand slam by Austin Hennings. The dunk brought the crowd to its feet and provided the perfect exclamation point for the Storm (6-12, 2-5 Iowa Conference), who were coming off back-to-back, double-digit losses.
Olu Rotibi led the charge with a career-high 20 points off 10-for-12 shooting from the free throw line. AJ Arrington added 18 points and Elijah Knox had 14 and five assists.
Branden Stubbs had 22 points and five assists and Jacob Winkler had 14 points and six rebounds before fouling out for the Dutch (9-8, 2-5).
Gretzky's 3 gave Simpson a 69-68 lead with 1:53 left before Stubbs knocked down a pair of free throws. Knox – who hit a game-winner against Loras a week ago – gave Simpson a 71-70 lead when he hit a pull-up jumper from the short, left corner with 36 seconds left.
The next Central possession provided some fireworks.
Winkler fouled out of the game when he was called for an illegal screen and hit with a technical after the subsequent argument. Knox made one of the two technical shots before Gretzky was fouled on the ensuing inbound. He also hit one of two to make it 73-70 with 20 seconds left.
After a Central timeout, Kevin Kaerwer missed a difficult layup and Bakerink missed the put-back, allowing Gretzky to set the final sequence in motion.
The cliffhanger featured 12 ties and 13 lead changes.
Simpson will try to keep the momentum going when it faces Coe for the second time in four days on Saturday, Jan. 26 in Cedar Rapids. The Kohawks (10-8, 3-4) lost to Buena Vista 70-64 at home on Wednesday.