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South Central rallies past RCA

Boys’ Basketball • Class 1A Borden Sectional • First round
South Central rallies past RCA
South Central rallies past RCA
South Central’s Wesley Wilson draws a lot of attention March 3 as he goes to the basket against Rock Creek Academy in the first round of Class A Sectional 61. Photo by George Browning
George Browning, Sports Writer, [email protected]

Trailing by two points with just less than four minutes to play in the first round of the Class A Sectional 61 at Borden on Tuesday, March 3, South Central turned to Lucas Stewart, who helped them get the 49-43 win over Rock Creek Academy.

A two by Stewart tied the score at 40 with 3:44 left in the game. He went on to score five more of his team-high 14 points during the final three minutes, and teammate Austin Tyree drilled a three while the Rebels’ defense held the Lions to just three points during that stretch.

South Central coach Greg Robinson said Stewart and the rest of his team played like they didn’t want their season to end.

“I felt like they all played with that sense of urgency,” Robinson said. “Lucas really played like that on the boards. He went after those rebounds. It was a really physical game with not a lot calls being made out there, and he kept after it. He was battling for offensive and defensive boards. I thought he and all the players played like they wanted to keep playing.”

Robinson called for a change in his team’s defense during the final four minutes, which helped them pull away.

“We made a change to our defensive formation, and that led to us getting a few steals and helped us get a little bit of a lead,” he said. “The kids played hard. We knew this was going to be tough. Rock Creek had been playing well. They beat a couple of really good teams heading into sectional. We stepped up.”

The six-point spread to end the game was the biggest lead either team managed throughout the contest.

Rock Creek led by five, 20-15, at halftime, and that lead could have been larger if not for the play of Tyree, who hit two first-half threes, and Caden Cunningham.

Cunningham had just two points but grabbed a couple of rebounds, one on the offensive end that kept the Lions within striking distance.

“Caden came up big for us all night,” Robinson said. “He forced a turnover late that led to a basket that was really big for us. He is a senior, and he is just really smart and always seems to be in the right place, and that paid off tonight.”

Points may have been at a premium through the first 16 minutes, but that wasn’t the case in the second half with a number of ties and lead changes.

South Central used a 6-0 run in the opening minutes of the third quarter, sparked by four points from Wesley Wilson and two from Dylan Patterson, that gave them a 31-30 lead.

Tyree hit two threes in the third quarter that were answered by baskets by Rock Creek’s Johnathon Browning and Ladarius Wallace. A basket by the Lions’ Kevin Monkham-Meyer put the Lions up four, 31-27.

South Central quickly tied the score at 31 when Stewart hit one of two free throws and Patterson converted an old-fashioned three-point play.

Wilson hit a shot as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter, giving the Rebels a 33-31 lead heading into the final quarter.

Rock Creek went back in front when Michael Sulzer hit a three on his team’s opening possession of the third quarter, but the advantage was short-lived.

Tyree hit one of two free throws after grabbing an offensive rebound and getting fouled on the put-back attempt. Then Stewart got two steals on two consecutive possessions that led to four of his 14 points and gave South Central a four-point advantage, 38-34.

Rock Creek responded again with another three by Wallace and then went up two off another three by Sulzer.

Sulzer’s three set up Stewart’s shot that tied the score at 40. Stewart went on to hit five of six free throws down the stretch, and Wilson hit one of two. South Central’s only basket in the final two minutes was a three by Tyree.

“We came out in the second half with Wesley getting a little bit of an offensive spurt that sparked us, and Austin hit some big shots, too,” Robinson said. “Even with the way we were playing, you have to give credit to Rock Creek, because we’d get a lead and they would hit a big shot to get right back in it.”

As for his team’s slow start offensively, Robinson said he felt like it was more about what Rock Creek was doing than what his team wasn’t doing.

“They are a quick team and are very athletic,” he said. “We don’t get to see that every day, and I think we just didn’t adjust to it very well. We were able to get a lot of good looks early; they just didn’t go in. I challenged them at halftime to keep getting after it on the defensive end and the shots would eventually fall, and they did.”

Tyree led all scorers with 16 points, Stewart added 14 and Patterson and Wilson scored nine and eight points each, respectively.

The win set up a semi-final showdown Friday against Christian Academy of Indiana.

South Central                   8     7   18   16 – 49

Rock Creek                       7   13   11   12 – 43

South Central (9-15) – Austin Tyree 16, Lucas Stewart 14, Dylan Patterson 9, Wesley Wilson 8, Caden Cunningham 2.

Rock Creek (6-17) – Johnathon Browning 9, Michael Sulzer 9, Lettwan Darden 8, Kevin Monkham-Meyer 8, Ladarius Wallace 3, Johnathon Boggs 2, Gavin Gullion 2, Jaleb Treat 2.

3-point goals – South Central 5 (Tyree 5); Rock Creek 6 (Sulzer 3, Darden 2, Wallace 1).