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Hornets win OT thriller

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UP STRONG: Clinton Prairie’s Austin Gibson eyes the basket while being guarded by Rossville’s Dirk Shaw during the second half of Friday’s game.
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HIGH SCORER: Rossville’s Chase Frey looks for an opening during Friday’s overtime win against Clinton Prairie. Frey led all scorers with 22 points.
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FINGER ROLL: Above, Clinton Prairie’s Brandon Mosson goes to the basket during Friday’s game.
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QUICK STOP: Rossville’s Bryce Oliver tries to regain his balance while guarding Clinton Prairie’s Bailey Good during Friday’s game.
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LET GO: Right, Clinton Prairie’s Austin Gibson rebounded both the ball and the arm of Rossville’s Kirby Meeks on this second-half play. Meeks was called for a foul on the play.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville needed overtime to beat host Clinton Prairie in boys basketball on Friday, with the conference game remaining in doubt until the last minute of OT before the Hornets salted a 67-59 win away at the free-throw line.

It looked like the Gophers (7-4, 1-1 Hoosier Heartland Conference) would win their fifth in a row in the series between county rivals when Bailey Good (team-highs of 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists) scored early in the fourth quarter to push a 40-32 Gopher lead to double digits.

“(Chase Frey) was kind of the reason we came all the way back,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “We were down 10 or whatever and it was kind of on his back, getting to the rim and scoring through contact. There was a lot of that (contact).”

Rossville’s Dawson Jacoby scored a conventional three-point play and on a 3-pointer to cut the 10-point deficit to four with 6:35 to play before Frey (who had a game-high 22 points and team-high six rebounds) scored two baskets underneath and assisted on another to Kirby Meeks that tied it at 44 with 4:57 to play.

“Then they got it back to six … and they had a chance to make it eight but they missed,” Dunn noted.

The Gophers responded by scoring six straight on buckets by Brandon Mosson, Good and Austin Gibson to make it 50-44 with 2:40 to play. Each team failed to convert on free throws before Frey buried a pull-up jumper to make it 50-46 with two minutes left in regulation, only to see Grant McGraw (team-high 18 points including three 3-pointers with six rebounds) hit two free throws and push it back to six with 1:48 left in regulation.

“We really had control,” Gophers head coach Jeff Henley said. “We had it up to six with two or three minutes to go in the game and they got the ball inside on the very next possession and got a bucket and a foul and cut it to three. The next possession I think they got the ball back.”

Dirk Shaw (16 points and a team-high six rebounds with Frey) scored that And-1 for the Hornets (8-2, 2-0 HHC) that cut the lead to 52-49 with 1:33 left. Rossville’s press caused a turnover on the next possession with Frey getting fouled at the other end, hitting both free throws just 13 seconds later.

On Prairie’s next possession, Good got stuck under the basket, looking both ways, before going up and hitting a shot. When the whistle blew, Gopher fans were wanting the bucket to count and a foul, but a traveling call gave the ball back to Rossville which didn’t convert on the next possession.

Meeks, who was in foul trouble from the start, left the game with 48 seconds remaining in regulation after his fifth foul, but Gibson missed the front-end of the one-and-one opportunity. Jacoby (who had 18 points with three 3-pointers) took advantage scoring on a drive with just 30 seconds to play, giving the Hornets their first lead since under three minutes in the first half.

The lead didn’t last as Good was fouled breaking the press, hitting both free throws, but Frey scored and was fouled underneath – missing the free throw – for a one-point Rossville lead with 10 seconds on the clock. Good tied it after being fouled with four seconds left, hitting the second free throw of a double bonus, before Jacoby missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.

“They hit a couple of shots and we missed a couple of shots and we get beat,” Henley noted.

The Hornets scored the first three points in the extra session with a Good bucket getting it back to one. Shaw rebounded his own miss for a score and scored again on two free throws with 1:17 left to make it 62-57.

Good hit a pull-up in the lane on the next possession, but Bryce Oliver (seven points and team-leading three steals) answered for Rossville on a drive. The Gophers missed two 3-pointers in the last 40 seconds, while Frey hit two free throws and Shaw one to ice the game for the Hornets.

Dunn noted a similar experience against Lafayette Central Catholic earlier this year may have benefited his squad.

“When we played Catholic, we had to battle back from further down than that and we took the lead by one in the fourth and then we kind of faltered,” he said. “Tonight, I felt like we took the lead and they punched us back, but yet we buckled back down and attacked things on our end that were in our favor.

“I thought the guys didn’t panic, because they could have panicked in that situation. They stayed tough and pulled it off.”

“For the fans it was entertaining, but I’m just disappointed we lost,” Henley said. “It was a good game. I thought both teams played really hard, I thought both teams played really well.”

“We’ve had some really good games with Clinton Prairie and we just haven’t been able to get over the hill,” noted Dunn, who got his first win in five tries against the Gophers as Rossville’s coach. “... This was a good win. Clinton Prairie is a heck of a ball team. They’re good and to win on their floor. Credit to coach Henley, he does a great job with them. They were going after their strengths as well.”

“It comes down to a play here or a play there,” Henley said. “I’m just really proud of our kids. We gave them a game plan, they stayed with it, did everything we asked them to do. I don’t think they had a whole lot left by the time the game was over. … I thought this was the best we played all year for the longest period of time.

“(The Hornets) are a hard team to guard. They’ve got two really good shooters in Oliver and Jacoby and then those other guys are big and they’re athletic, so it really causes some problems.”

While Rossville’s starters did much of the scoring, Dunn credited the minutes he got from bench players Reid Douglas and Damon Shaw after Meeks drew two fouls in the first minute of the game and sat out the rest of the first half and key reserve Jesse Cornell missed the game due to illness.

“I was really proud of our bench and what those two players did coming in and helping us out,” he said.

Henley said he was “just happy with the whole team,” but noted Gibson (10 points and three rebounds) “played his best game by far.

“He posted up like we want him to. He did a lot of good things.”

At Jefferson

HORNETS 67, GOPHERS 59

Rossville

Frey 8 6-8 22, Jacoby 6 3-3 18, Dirk Shaw 6 4-5 16, Meeks 1 0-2 2, Oliver 3 0-0 7, Damon Shaw 1 0-0 2, Douglas 0 0-0 0, Del Real 0 0-0 0. Totals – 25 13-18 67.

Clinton Prairie

G. McGraw 6 3-4 18, Good 7 4-6 18, A. Gibson 3 3-5 10, M. McGraw 2 0-0 5, Fullerton 2 0-0 4, Mosson 1 0-0 2, K. Gibson 1 0-0 2, Funk 0 0-2 0. Totals – 22 10-17 59.

Rossville 15 9 8 23 12 — 67

Clinton Prairie 11 17 12 15 4 — 59

3-point goals – Rossville (Jacoby 3, Oliver 1), Clinton Prairie (G. McGraw 3, M. McGraw 1, A. Gibson 1). Total fouls – Rossville 17, Clinton Prairie 17.