Spencer Wright knows what it feels like to have the game in his hands.
And Friday night’s outcome was no different than anytime before.
The Western Boone senior took the ball the length of the floor and scored the game-winning basket in the final seconds to lift the Stars over North Montgomery 50-49, and into the Sugar Creek Classic championship game.
“Spencer Wright is built for those moments,” Stars first-year coach Josh Burkett said. “And that’s why I got him the ball, and that’s why he finished. So we were really proud of that, and it’s always good to come out on top.”
After a back and forth first half that ended with North Montgomery (6-5) in front 23-20, Western Boone had a 33-30 advantage in the last 30 seconds of the third quarter, before an Alex Wallace bucket, and a Jaron Bradford 3-pointer put the Chargers up by two heading into the final period.
Western Boone (3-4) fought right back. A Cortez Stoudemire 3-point play made it 38-37 North Montgomery at the 5: 35 mark, and he tied it at 42-42 just 90 seconds later. The senior led the Stars with 12 points, including eight in the final quarter.
Bradford broke the tie with a layup, and the Chargers pushed back ahead 46-43, before Western Boone freshman Marcus Stepp buried a 3-pointer to tie it at 46-46, and a pair of Stoudemire free throws put WeBo back ahead by two with 38.2 seconds left. On the other end Kade Kobel converted a three-point play to give the Chargers their last lead of the game with 6.6 seconds left, setting up Wright’s heroic moment. Kobel led the Chargers with 12 points in a game that featured 16 lead changes, including three in the final 38 seconds.
“It was a heck of a game, and it could have gone to anybody,” Burkett said. “We were just fortunate enough to have the ball at the end with six seconds.”
North Montgomery coach Chad Arnold was disappointed with the loss, feeling like the Chargers let one slip away.
“We gave up 17 points in the fourth — that’s just not good enough,” the first-year coach said. “We gave up offensive rebounds and missed layups. I mean how many layups did we miss?”
The Chargers were just 21-of-51 (41 percent) from the field, and were out-rebounded 37-30 by the Stars. Western Boone made 18-of-44 shots, and connected on 9-of-16 from the free throw line.
Jake Jones chipped in 11 points for Western Boone off the bench, while Wright had 10. Jack Thompson reached double-figures for the Chargers with 10 points, and Alex Wallace added nine.
The win puts Western Boone back in the championship game for a second-straight year, where they will be in search of the coveted paddle for the fourth time in the 14th year of the SCC. Crawfordsville won the other semi-final game 84-43 over Southmont. The Athenians are on a four-game winning streak, and beat the Stars three times last season, but Burkett is confident they will be ready to combat a lanky Crawfordsville team that starts three guys at 6’4” or taller.
“At this point everybody that we’ve played, at least in the conference is way bigger than us,” he said. “We’ve just got to not make it an excuse, and try and find a way to outwork them, and use what we have as an advantage, which is a lot of the time our athleticism. We are a lot quicker than most teams we play against, so we have to use our speed and quickness to get around.”
North Montgomery will face the Mounties in the consolation game — a rematch of a 49-45 Southmont win earlier in the season.
“We’ve just got to come to play,” Arnold said. “We’ve got seniors, so hopefully they’re mature enough to come in here and be ready to go regardless of who we play. It’s still revenge for us.”
The consolation game will tip at 6 p.m. with the championship to follow at Crawfordsville High School.