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Thrilling finish vs. CAI goes way of Rebels

Thrilling finish vs. CAI goes way of Rebels
Thrilling finish vs. CAI goes way of Rebels
South Central players, led by Zach Goodwin (33), Alex Wiseman (10) and Jason Boston (23), rush to teammate Nick Soots (5) after the final horn sounded the RebelsÂ’ 52-50 win over Christian Academy of Indiana. Photo by Brian Smith (click for larger version)

When pressed for a clutch shot, South Central found the bottom of the net at the right time.
Despite a bizarre final 10 seconds, the Rebels held on to avenge an early season loss to Christian Academy of Indiana by beating the Warriors, 52-50, in the first round of the Class A Borden Sectional last Tuesday.
‘Our guys, from the first day until now, they have done a complete 180,’ South Central coach Ryan Crick said. ‘This is a different team.’
With 2:14 to play, CAI took a 47-46 lead when Aaron Hayes put in a field goal. Seconds later, South Central’s Bobby Sampson had the answer with a pull-up jumper inside the arc. Once the Rebels went ahead 48-47, they wouldn’t relinquish the edge.
Tyler Schifcar extended the lead to three with a baseline jump shot off the dribble. CAI later trimmed the margin to 51-49 when Hayes scored again with 36 seconds left. Following a single free throw from South Central’s Kyle Pease to push the lead back to three, the drama unfolded.
Inside 10 seconds to play, CAI’s Tyler Stumler missed a shot inside the arc. Schifcar pulled down the rebound amid a slew of Warriors hanging on him and sent an outlet pass to Pease, who seemed to lay in the game-ending field goal.
The whistle from the official underneath the CAI basket went largely unnoticed under the noise of the boisterous sectional crowd. Schifcar was called for a flagrant foul and was ejected from the game. The make from Pease was disallowed and 5.6 seconds was put back on the scoreboard. CAI also received two free throws and the ball.
‘The referee said Schifcar kicked a player and called a flagrant foul,’ Crick said. ‘It’s the referee’s call on that; I didn’t see the play.’
Jacob Beckley made one of two free throws, leaving South Central ahead 52-50. Off the inbounds pass, Hayes’ shot attempt drew iron, as did a last-ditch tip-in effort.
‘That was the longest 5.6 seconds of my life,’ Crick said. ‘I’m just watching the ball and looked for the red light. The name of the game is survive and advance right now.’
Once the ball fell off the wayside, the Rebels players celebrated the school’s first win in sectional play since 2008.
‘For this team, this year, we had a lot of mental breakdowns, especially early in the year,’ Crick said. ‘We still have some, but we are getting better. But now, guys are still hustling and offsetting those mistakes.’
Entering the second half, South Central trailed 20-16. Mark O’Connor came up big in the second half, scoring all 11 of his points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. With CAI paying heavy attention to Boston, the Rebels looked to O’Connor for inside looks.
‘We talked about this; we knew they’d do everything they could to take Jason away,’ Crick said. ‘Jason scored 32 on them last year and had a 20 points and 22 rebounds this year. He had a tough time adjusting to it, but we explained to him that he was the decoy tonight. Then Mark stepped up to show it was a total team effort. Every kid that stepped on the floor gave us something positive tonight. The end result is a win.’
Pease paced the Rebels with 20 points. The junior swished four treys in the second half, each coming at key moments.
Sampson had four steals for the Rebels, leading to much of his 14 points.
‘First half, Bobby was the man up top on defense. He was getting tips and easy looks,’ Crick said.
The win improved South Central to 6-15 after winning three games in each of the previous two seasons.
Hayes tallied 20 points to lead CAI, while Devonte King had 15.
South Central advanced to play New Washington on Friday.