Hester pesters Lanesville, leads Hornets to title
Saturday night was sectional championship time for Henryville and Lanesville as the two teams squared off for the second consecutive year in the Class A sectional title game.
Sectional championship time translated into Eric Hester Time as the Henryville senior carried the team on his shoulders and to the title.
Lanesville led by five points at 32-27 in the final period and appeared finally to be in command of a game that had been intense and back-and-forth the entire way.
But Henryville went on a 13-0 run, then hit free throws down the stretch to win the game, 43-38.
‘It was looking bleak when we were down by five, to say the least,’ said Henryville coach Jack Brooks. ‘Lanesville had an excellent game plan and stuck with it. It’s a shame they couldn’t share the title with us. They played well enough to earn it.’
Hester was the man of the hour for the Hornets as he scored 23 of Henryville’s 43 points. The final part of the game Brooks simply let Hester bring the ball up and do whatever needed to be done.
‘Hester is simply a senior,’ said Brooks. ‘When we got down five we put the ball in his hands and turned it over to him.’
‘We were having a hard time scoring. I said, ‘We can’t go down without a fight,’ so I did what needed to be done,’ said Hester. ‘When we got down by five we seniors knew it was time to step up or our high school playing time would be finished.’
Henryville won its first-ever boys’ sectional last season, but only Hester returned as a starter and as the only player with much varsity experience. He was joined by four other seniors on this year’s team, three of whom also start for the Hornets.
In Friday night’s semifinal game against South Central Hester was also on fire, scoring 28 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing out seven assists.
‘Once Eric got open tonight we knew things were going to be fine,’ said Terry Thomas, a senior starting forward. ‘He takes care of us when he gets going.’
Henryville was struggling about a month ago with a 7-7 record, but since that time won 10 of its final 11 games and now have a record of 17-8.
‘At the end of the game I think we just stepped up and played a little harder,’ said Michael Graf, a senior who starts at center. ‘It was like that at the end of the season as well. We decided we needed to play harder and we didn’t want our senior season to end like the way we were playing.’
Lanesville outscored Henryville from the field by two field goals, was even in rebounding, and about equal in turnovers.
But Henryville took twice as many free throw attempts and hit 12 more from the line than did the Eagles.
‘The difference was the foul line,’ Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said. ‘We were 11 of 15, which isn’t bad, but they shot 30 free throws.’
‘We hit our free throws and kept fighting and fighting even when we were behind,’ said Henryville point guard Cody Munk. ‘But it was hard to put Lanesville away. They played so hard.
‘We got up by seven late in the game and they still came back and had a chance.’
With 13 seconds remaining Lanesville had trimmed the eight-point deficit to just three points.
But Munk hit two more free throws to reach the final score. Munk was a perfect 10-for-10 from the foul line against Lanesville. On Friday against South Central the sophomore was 10-of-11 from the stripe.
Munk was the only other Henryville player to reach double figures with a dozen.
Michael Burres and David Bachmann each scored 10 points to pace Lanesville.
The Eagles had the toughest draw in the tournament, having to play the other top three teams in Restoration Christian, Borden, and then Henryville. The games against Borden and Henryville were particularly intense.
‘We told the guys after the game they had no reason to hang their heads,’ said Miller. ‘They played well.’
Lanesville has nine of its top 12 players returning next season. The Eagles finished the season with a record of 14-10.
Henryville will play in the regional at Franklin on Saturday against the Orleans Bulldogs.
Lanesville 37, Borden 34
In one of the ugliest ball games of the entire sectional, Lanesville overcame poor shooting and 16 turnovers to edge upset-minded Borden.
No player reached double-figures in scoring for the Eagles.
Michael Burres led the way with nine points. Patrick Huffman scored eight and Eric Hess added six. Dave Bachmann and Evan Bridges notched five apiece as well in the win.
Bachmann had a game-high 13 rebounds and swatted three shots as well.
The Eagles led at the half, 18-14, but Borden rallied and held a slim lead heading into the final period, 23-22.
Lanesville was 15 of 44 (34 percent) from the field and hit just one free throw in five attempts.
Borden, which got 10 points from Alex Ooley, was 11 of 36 (31 percent) from the floor, but made up ground on the Eagles by hitting 13 of 18 free throws.
Clayton Welbourn had seven points and 11 rebounds as well for the Braves.