Prairie Heights built up a big lead then held on for dear life to defeat the scrappy Churubusco Eagles, 56-50 in NECC boys boys basketball play last Friday night in Turtle Town.
A short jumper in the lane by Spencer Hess early in the fourth quarter gave the visiting Panthers a 42-28 lead. It was the second largest edge of the game for coach Brett Eltzroth’s club – the other was a 33-17 margin midway through the third period.
But before Prairie Heights could think about getting the bus warmed up and celebrate a victory ride home the host Eagles, whose 11-player roster does not include a single senior, tallied 11 straight points to narrow the gap to just three. Keying the run were a couple of baskets by Brent Simmons and a triple by Hayden Kilgore.
With three minutes left on the clock, Simmons converted a nifty pass from T.J. Campbell into a layup that tied the count at 44-all. Moments later, Simmons hit a pair of free throws which put Churubusco ahead, 46-45, marking the first time the Eagles had led in the fourth quarter of any game this season.
The lead was short-lived, however, as a basket and two free throws by Jacob Heller regained the advantage for Prairie Heights, 49-48. Dylan Stayner then picked the pocket of an Eagle ballhandler at mid-court and converted the steal into a huge, three-point play to boost the Panther margin to four.
“That was probably the play of the game,” said Eltzroth of Stayner’s pilfer and score. “Dylan will run through a brick wall if you asked him to.”
A free throw by Corey Sarrazin with 22 seconds left drew Churubusco back to within two (52-50). But Heller drained four clutch charity tosses to sew up the Panther win and complete his 28-point evening.
“We have figure out a way to finish games better, but at least we’re talking about it after a victory, so that’s a positive,” Eltzroth stated. “Rome wasn’t built in a day and we still have a long way to go to get where we want to be as a basketball team. But I like what direction we’re headed in.”
Heller also snagged a team-best seven rebounds to go with his 28 markers. Zach Shepard contributed eight points and six boards to the winning ledger. Kyler West delivered three assists and Stayner four steals.
Beau Barkley topped a trio of Eagle players in double figures with 13 points. Sarrazin finished with 12 tallies and Simmons had 11.
Prairie Heights 56
Scoring by quarters
PH 14 13 11 18 -56
CH 5 8 13 24 -50
Spencer Hess 2, 0-0, 4; Kyler West 0, 2-4, 2; Cassten Everidge 0, 1-2, 1; Jackie Owens 0, 0-0, 0; Landon Wohlers 2, 1-3, 5; Jacob Heller 8, 11-15, 28; Corey Johnson 0, 0-0, 0; Dylan Stayner 2, 1-1, 5; Zach Shepard 3, 2-7, 8; Bobby Blum 1, 1-2, 3; Totals 18, 19-34, 56
Three-point field goals 1 (Heller 1); Rebounds 25 (Heller 7, Shepard 6); Assists 8 (West 3); Steals 7 (Stayner 4)
T.J. Campbell 0, 2-2, 2; Garrett Simmons 1, 0-0, 2; Beau Barkley 3, 6-12, 13; Hayden Kilgore 2, 0-0, 6; Landon Pence 0, 0-0, 0; Brent Simmons 4, 3-4, 11; Blake Gross 1, 1-2, 3; Drew Buffenbarger 1, 0-3, 2; Josh Howk 0, 0-0, 0; Luke Lillmars 0, 0-0, 0; Corey Sarrazin 3, 6-9, 12; Totals 15, 18-32, 50
Three-point field goals 2 (Kilgore 2)