Like walks in baseball, missed free throws tend to come back and bite the basketball team that has them.
Prairie Heights found out how fatal a cold night at the charity stripe can be Tuesday. Canning just nine of 25 attempts from the line, the Panthers dropped a 69-63 decision to Lakewood Park in Brushy Prairie.
In spite of their woeful free throw effort, coach Brett Eltzroth’s club still had a chance to pull out its 10th win of the campaign. Jacob Heller, who led all scorers in the game with 27 points, gave the Panthers a 63-61 lead with a minute left in regulation time.
But 20 seconds later, Zac Crosby swished a pair of free throws for Lakewood Park, tying the count at 63-all. Crosby then stole an inbounds pass, was fouled on a drive, and hit two more charity tosses to put the visiting Panthers ahead, 65-63.
After a Prairie Heights miss with 10 seconds remaining, Crosby was fouled on the rebounds. The four-year starter again made both free throw tries, extending the difference to four.
Blake Mann then sealed Lakewood’s eighth straight triumph with two more charity tosses with five seconds left.
Crosby and Mann topped the Lakewood Park scoring column with 19 and 17 points, respectively. Wesley Davidson added 11 points and Brooks Gerke nine to the Panther attack.
Davidson led 12-5 Lakewood on the glass with 10 rebounds. Gerke delivered six assists.
Zach Shepard backed up Heller on the Prairie Heights scoresheet with 17 points.
The loss dropped Prairie Heights to 9-11.