WALKER VAN WEY | Reporter
The Lindenwood billiards team was tested in its Oct. 11 match up at home against the Maplewood Shotmakers but came out on top again, 15-12.
Lindenwood started the night with an early lead but was assured that the race to 27 was far from over.
“We were ahead 4-1 and kind of loosening up, and I told them, ‘Don’t think you’ve got this,’” said head coach Mark Wilson. “I even said before it started this would be a real tough match.”
As predicted, the Shotmakers warmed up and found their groove while the Lions appeared to take their feet off the gas.
“I think there was a little complacency,” Wilson said. “As soon as you disrespect the sport, the sport knows it and it will punish you.”
With Lindenwood up 13-11, the Lions found themselves behind in the final three matches when three-time national champion Landon Shuffett was defeated, tightening the Lions’ lead to an unfamiliar and uncomfortable 13-12.
“I felt like we were going to lose,” Wilson said. “I felt like it was going to be a good learning experience.”
With one more win needed to secure the match, a doubles match featured the team of Taylor Reynolds and Austin Walker. Unaware of the current tension, Reynolds and Walker surprised the room with an upset victory of 3-1.
“I had no idea,” Walker said. “We were pretty much just having fun and trying to make it a good match. Since we didn’t know it, I think it might have helped. It took the pressure off.”
Although the Lions have historically found comfort in the win column, they knew they would be forced out of their comfort zones against the experience of the Shotmakers.
“Really, it should have been close tonight,” said Lindenwood player Alan Oliver. “I’m glad we won, but it wouldn’t have been a huge surprise if we lost. You can’t take anything away from that group of longtime competitors.”
Coach Wilson and the Lions find wisdom in every match, and being able to absorb critical competitive lessons while still getting the win sits pleasantly with all in the Lindenwood billiards room.
“You grow from those experiences,” Wilson said. “I like that we got tested without any blemishes is always nice.”
The Lions take on Salvo’s Slayers at 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15, at home.