Lanesville just shy in back-to-back title bid
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]
During a 32-minute basketball game, it’s often difficult to point to one play as making the difference, but during Christian Academy of Indiana’s 44-42 win over Lanesville in the Class A Sectional 61 championship Saturday, that didn’t seem to be the case.
With the score tied at 38, the Warriors’ TJ Proctor converted an and-one opportunity with 1:28 remaining that gave his team a 41-38 lead.
Lanesville responded and kept the game within one possession with Connor Nolot trading two free throws with the Warriors’ Brady Dunn.
Dunn’s freebies gave CAI a 43-40 lead with 31.2 seconds remaining,
Ethan Schickel drew a foul on the Eagles’ next possession and hit two free throws of his own with 19.8 seconds left.
Forced to foul, Lanesville sent Bailey Conrad to the line. He hit just one of two free throws, giving Christian Academy a 44-42 advantage.
With 16.5 seconds on the clock, Lanesville had the ball and a chance to tie or take the lead but never got off a shot. With the threat of losing possession, Miller called a timeout but, by the time the whistle blew, the clock read zeros.
The officials met and decided to put four-tenths of a second back on the clock. Trying to throw a pass near the basket, the ball sailed out of bounds and the game ended with CAI inbounding the ball.
“When you have two good teams going at it, all you can ask for is a chance to win,” said Lanesville coach Mikel Miller. “We had a chance to tie it or win it, and you have to give them credit defensively for coming up with the stop. We just couldn’t get into our set and get a good look at the basket.”
Miller said he didn’t specify whether he wanted his team to take a three or a two but said they were just looking for an open shot.
As for the play by Proctor, Miller said it was tough to overcome.
“That was a big play because he got the and-one and then hit the free throw and that put us down by three,” he said. “We still had time to recover from it, and I never sensed any panic from our kids but it did feel like a key moment.”
The entire game was close with both teams at different times taking small leads.
Tripp Dillion III scored four points early, and Nolot and Griffen Reynolds each scored to help the Eagles pull to within one of the Warriors, 9-8, late in the first quarter.
Baskets by Proctor and Chris Ballew put Christian Academy on top 13-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Lanesville answered with a three by Justin Bailey and a two by Jacob Wernert that tied the score at 13.
Reynolds scored two off an assist by Jonas Powers that was an answer to another basket by Proctor, tying the score at 15.
The remainder of the first half unfolded that way with the Warriors grabbing a lead and Lanesville tying the score. That was the case until three missed free throws by Christian Academy opened the door, and Nolot and the Eagles stormed through it.
Nolot pulled Lanesville to within one when he hit two free throws and then gave the Eagles a 22-20 lead after one of his threes went in.
The Warriors was the team with an answer this time as Proctor drained a three with time running down, putting his team back on top 23-22.
Lanesville was patient at the start of the third quarter and managed to milk nearly 2:15 off the clock before another three by Nolot put the Eagles back on top, 25-23.
Proctor was fouled going to the basket on CAI’s next possession but only hit one of two, this time allowing the Eagles to expand their lead.
Nolot scored again, and a charge taken by Reynolds set up another opportunity. Nolot, like he had done throughout the game, hit another three, to give the Eagles a six-point, 30-24 lead.
Conrad responded with a three for the Warriors and, after a rebounding foul was called on the Eagles, Proctor added a three, tying the score at 30. Conrad hit a two early in the third quarter, and Nolot hit another three, putting the Eagles up one, 33-32.
A five-second violation called on Christian Academy led to another basket by Reynolds, and Lanesville was back up three, 35-32.
The score continued to go back and forth, setting up the last-minute excitement.
Miller felt like once Lanesville went up by six, his squad missed the opportunity to put away the game.
“That was the stretch where we needed a key stop to get the lead out even more, but they ended up hitting a three and that gave them momentum to come the rest of the way back,” he said.
The loss ended an emotional season filled with the tragic loss of one of the team’s seniors, Thomas Elder, as well as a number of injuries the Eagles had to overcome.
Miller said his team never makes excuses, but he did admit it was, at times, a challenging year.
“We never made any excuses, but, when you start out the season like we did with the passing of a teammate, who was really one of our leaders who always provided us with energy, it was pretty tough,” he said. “Then, throughout the season, we had injuries here and there. Coach Sizemore pointed out to the kids that we had a lot of life lessons. Life can be tough and filled with peaks and valleys, and we saw that throughout the season. The kids handled it well and tried to compete each and every time they stepped on the court.”
Lanesville was 14-11 and will now be charged with replacing a senior class that includes the top three scorers. Miller said this year’s seniors can take pride in knowing they will leave their mark on the program.
“They won a sectional and were on two conference championship teams,” Miller said of the group. “They continued to lay a foundation for our program. They give us another group of seniors who have participated in a positive way. They were great examples and showed our young kids how to do things the right way.”
Christian Academy won its third sectional since 2015 and will advance to the Loogootee regional where they will face Northeast Dubois.
Lanesville 8 14 8 12 – 42
Christian Academy 13 10 7 14 – 44
Lanesville (14-11) – Connor Nolot 22, Griffen Reynolds 8, Tripp Dillion III 4, Justin Bailey 3, Ethan Schickel 2, Jacob Wernert 2, Jonas Powers 1.
Christian Academy (18-7) – TJ Proctor 20, Bailey Conrad 13, Josh Hahn 6, Chris Ballew 2, Brady Dunn 2, Ethan Carrier 1.
3-point goals – Lanesville 5 (Nolot 4, Bailey 1); Christian Academy 4 (Conrad 2, Proctor 2).