Pirates ruin Eagles’ homecoming in double OT
By Brandon Miniard, Sports Writer, [email protected]
As the boys’ basketball regular season prepares to enter the final stretch, the Lanesville Eagles continue to struggle for victories.
After going 1-1 the week prior with a 61-22 loss to North Harrison, followed by a 65-52 victory over Clarksville, the Eagles returned home for their final home game in January. Prior to hosting Charlestown on Saturday night, Lanesville Junior-Senior High School had its annual homecoming festivities.
Once seniors Collin Stickles and Austin Crosier were crowned homecoming king and queen, respectively, the Eagles took the floor in hopes of stealing a victory from the taller, more athletic Pirates. Despite taking their guests into a pair of extra periods, the Eagles fell just short, 47-44.
“We’ve been playing a bit better lately, a lot of it because we’ve been playing to the post, playing inside,” Eagles’ head coach Mikel Miller said. “We were trying to play through the post, but I think we had some chances that we didn’t take advantage of.”
The Pirates took advantage of a number of early Eagles’ turnovers for a 14-point first quarter, led by eight points from Jake Helton followed by four points from Ethan French and a bucket from Austin Pickerell. Junior forward Kameron Walter labored to keep the Eagles in the contest with a bucket and four free throws. Trailing 14-6 in the period’s final seconds, junior center Lucas Frazier grabbed the offensive board before taking a mid-range shot at the buzzer. The shot fell through, though it only served to cut the Eagles’ deficit to 14-8.
Offense was at a premium in the second quarter, a battle the Eagles barely won, 7-6. Aside from a Frazier bucket, the remainder of the hosts’ offense came at the charity stripe as Frazier and junior guards Maddex Miller and Jack Crosby combined to go 5 for 6 at the foul line. The Pirates countered with four points from Helton and a Pickerell bucket before retreating to the locker room with a slim 20-15 edge.
“We didn’t get the ball into the post, especially in that first half,” coach Miller said. “There were opportunities there for us, and playing through them enables us to get some better shots and more open shots from outside.”
The Eagles battled for the lead throughout the second half, starting with a third quarter that saw a 7-2 Eagles’ run led by a Crosby triple, Miller bucket and Frazier freebies. The Pirates countered with a surge of their own as they were led in the period by four points from Helton, buckets from Pickerell and Jake Ottersbach and free throws from Chase Benner. Walter kept the Eagles within striking distance with a bucket and free throw to cut the deficit to 30-25 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Pirates tried to keep their distance in the final quarter as they had baskets from French and Benner. The 6-foot-6 Benner also combined with Pickerell to go 5 for 6 from the foul line, but it wasn’t enough to stop the Eagles, powered by Frazier free throws and two triples apiece from Crosby and junior guard Dawson Teeter. Crosby’s second triple of the period came with about 20 seconds left to tie the contest.
Despite getting multiple possessions in the final seconds, Teeter’s shot at the buzzer fell by the wayside, sending the contentious contest into overtime with the score tied at 39.
“Let’s be honest, we probably didn’t play really good basketball until maybe the last four minutes of regulation,” coach Miller said. “That’s what I told the kids, for about four minutes we played pretty solid and did things we needed to do, but up to that point it was really sloppy and poorly played on both ends.
“I saw a gritty group those last four minutes who gave a lot of effort to get themselves in a position to get it into overtime,” he said.
The bonus period was as tight as regulation despite the Pirates scoring the first four points. Miller converted on a tough layup in the final minute before Walter followed with a game-tying layup. Despite Eagles’ fouls, the Pirates bricked on four consecutive free throws. The fourth freebie bounced left only to remain in the visitors’ hands. Any chance at a walk-off bucket was thwarted when Crosby sent one last Pirates’ shot attempt toward the visitor’s locker room, signaling for a second frame of free basketball.
Another four minutes proved disastrous for the Eagles as they were outscored 4-1 in the period, that lone point coming off a Crosby free throw. That proved to be the hosts’ downfall as they fell 47-44.
“We don’t really feel comfortable under pressure, though some people do,” Maddex Miller said. “We were just under pressure, and we were making some dumb shots and dumb passes, which caused us to lose that game.”
Helton led the way for the Pirates with a game-high 18 points followed by Benner posting a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. All five Eagles’ starters scored, led by Crosby’s 12 followed by 11 from Walter, nine from Frazier and six apiece from Miller and Teeter.
“Defensively, we’re still having some of the same breakdowns that we’ve talked about after the very first game (against Evansville Christian),” coach Miller said. “It’s frustrating when you spend time working through the week of practice, go through the scouting report, we talked about individual players … Then, we get in the game and we just don’t lock in mentally and focus or follow the game plan we talked about. In a close game like that, every little detail matters. When you don’t pay close enough attention to those details, you’re gonna pay dearly in the end, and that end result was a loss.”
The Eagles will try to start the month of February on a positive note on Saturday when they travel west to Lynnville to confront Tecumseh at 2:30 p.m.