LEBANON — The third time was the charm for the Lebanon boys basketball team Friday night.
After losing each of their first two games in the final second, Lebanon got the ball to bounce its way in the final seconds in the Sagamore Conference opener against Crawfordsville.
John Morgan scored on a lob with 2.0 seconds left, his only points of the game, and the Tigers topped Crawfordsville 63-61 to move to 1-0 in the Sagamore Conference.
“It was just off a whim that we decided to put John Morgan in and with his athleticism just throw one up there and let him go get it,” Lebanon head coach Albert Hendrix said. “Everybody did their job. Michael Reese cut hard to the corner to draw out their big guy out, and left John with an advantage. John was able to get the ball and made a terrific finish to win it.”
Lebanon had chances to win at both the end of regulation and the first overtime, but Carson Burtron’s jumpers missed both times.
Hendrix said he was proud of the way that his kids kept battling until the very end.
“It’s the culture of our program right now,” Hendrix said. “The guys don’t care who gets the credit, they just want to win. We have battled for three games, and came up short the first two. Tonight, we caught a break and we took advantage of it. I am just really, really proud of our kids and the effort they gave start to finish.”
The loss dropped Crawfordsville to 1-2.
The Athenians have had their fair share of close games as well, beating Benton Central by two and falling to Greencastle by six in a tight game.
Head coach David Pierce said his team battled, just couldn’t get the break they needed.
“We had to grind it out,” Pierce said. “We shot 39% from the field and 58% from the free-throw line and you aren’t going to win many games like that. I’ll give our kids credit, we kept playing defense, grinding it out and gave ourselves a chance.”
Lebanon appeared well on its way to a victory, leading 47-38 after two Hunter Crew free throws with 5:18 to go.
But back-to-back 3-pointers by Karsten Williamson ignited a 12-1 run that put Crawfordsville up 50-48 with 1:48 to go.
Carson Burtron tied the game with 1:20 left, and after Lebanon got a stop with five seconds left, Burtron’s game-winner from the right elbow was short.
Missed free throws nearly came back to cost Lebanon in the first overtime.
Tied at 52 with 1:37 to go, Reese Jones hit one of two free throws to put the Tigers up 53-52, and after a stop, was fouled again with 44.8 to go. This time, however, he missed both shots and Crawfordsville’s Ty Lynas was fouled with 16.2 to go.
He missed the first, but hit the second, and Burtron’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was short to force a second overtime.
“That was because of four kids - K-dub (Williamson), Ziair (Morgan), Cole (Watt) and Carson (Scott),” Pierce said of the two comebacks. “They stepped up as leaders tonight. In timeouts they are talking, they weren’t nervous, and gave our guys confidence. That was awesome tonight, we hadn’t had that before tonight.”
Lebanon led 60-57 in the second overtime, but after two Morgan free throws cut it to 60-59, Lebanon only hit one of two free throws on its ensuing possession.
Nate Schroeter tied the game inside with a basket with 15 seconds left, setting up Morgan’s heroics.
“It’s always a good battle between us and Crawfordsville,” Hendrix said. “They have gotten the best of us the last few times and we know each other very well. It was a knock out, drag-out brawl tonight and we were fortunate to come out on top.”
Williamson led Crawfordsville with 17 points, with Lynas adding 12, Morgan adding 11 and Jesse Hall adding 10.
“Karsten had a great night,” Pierce said. “We needed him to score and he did a fantastic job. He was phenomenal. This was Ziair Morgan’s first varsity start and he ends up with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and two turnovers, that’s just amazing for a sophomore.”
Crawfordsville travels to Attica tonight.
Carson Burtron led the Tigers with 20 points on the night, with Luke Ferrell adding 11, Reese Jones adding nine and Crew and Michael Reese both adding eight.
The Tigers play Indiana Math and Science tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. at Danville.
“We wanted Carson to let the game come to him, and he did that after the first quarter,” Hendrix said. “He should great leadership tonight. Luke Ferrell fouled out, but showed great leadership on the bench pumping everyone up and Michael Reese was a great leader too. You have to credit our sophomores too, Hunter Crew, Kobe Ottinger played some big minutes, Reese Jones played almost the whole game and freshman Caleb Linton stopped up and was big for us too.