Tyler Luedeman drove down the right side of the free throw lane and banked in a shot with 12 seconds remaining to lift the Crothersville boys’ basketball team to a 53-52 Southern Athletic Conference win over South Central Saturday afternoon.
“Tyler made a great play there at the end of the game to put us back ahead,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “That’s the kind of play you expect from a senior at this point of the season.”
The Rebels had a chance to win it when Henry Hentrip drove the baseline and put up a shot that bounced off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
CHS led throughout the first three quarters and held a 46-45 lead entering the fourth period before the Rebels scored five straight, and led 50-46 on a basket by TJ Boyd with five minutes remaining.
Luedeman hit a 3-pointer, and Eli Mollet followed with rebound basket with 3:33 remaining, to put the Tigers on top 51-50.
Hentrip made two free throws with 28 seconds remaining to give the visitors a 52-51 lead.
“I think they turned it up a little bit in the second half, and I think we got back on our heels in the second half,” Kilgore said. “I talked at halftime that we were up by 14 points, but they’re going to keep coming at you. That’s the way Coach (Ryan) Crick coaches.”
The Tigers started out strong with Luedeman scoring 10 and Mollet 7 points in the first period to give Crothersville a 21-14 lead.
“It was an excellent start today,” Kilgore said. “We worked all week on attacking their 1-3-1 zone, getting the ball in the gaps on the dribble-penetration, and then kicking it out to the shooters or dumping it down on the baseline to Eli.
“The first half we did a great job of that, and set ourselves up for success.” The Tigers shot 14-for-34 in the first half, and Luedeman scored 13 and Mollett scored 12 during that time.
The Tigers continued to stay aggressive in the second period when they outscored the Rebels 19-12 for a 40-26 lead at the half. A 3-point play by Luedeman with 1:18 left gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the game at 40-20.
The Rebels scored the final six points of the second quarter, and Kilgore told his team at halftime to expect a real battle in the final 16 minutes.
“We talked about at halftime that they weren’t going to go away,” he said. “Coach Crick does an excellent job. He gets the kids to play hard and believe they can win no matter the circumstances.
“I told my kids that we needed to be the aggressors in the second half as well. I felt for the third quarter, and a big part of the fourth quarter we didn’t do that. The last three minutes I think we took control of the game again. We missed a couple free throws that could have sealed it earlier.”
Boyd made three goals, and Cory Ray and Hentrip added 3-point goals as the Rebels outscored the Tigers 19-6 in the third.
Luedeman and Mollet provided a strong 1-2 scoring punch for the Tigers with 20 and 18 points, respectively.
The Tigers held a 30-28 advantage in rebounds with Collyn Claywell leading the winners with nine.
Boyd topped the Rebels (1-16, 0-4) with 20 points.
The Tigers (3-15, 1-2) will travel to West Washington on Friday.
“If we can take the first half and build what we did in the first half, we can be a pretty good team coming down the stretch,” Kilgore said. “We’ve got to get rid of some of the second-half mistakes.”.