Josh Thomas made four free throws in the final 13.5 seconds to help Crothersville defeat Cannelton 57-54 on Friday afternoon in the seventh-place game in the Scott County boys’ tournament played at the Charles E. Meyer Gymnasium.
Cannelton took a 54-53 lead on a basket by Rafe Garrett with 38 seconds remaining before Thomas made two free throws with 13.5 remaining and two more with .01 on the clock.
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The Tigers, led by three 3-pointers by Thomas and 16 points by Lane Wienhorst, held a 40-24 lead at the half.
“We played real well in the first half,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “We played with energy, took care of the basketball. At halftime, (Zane) Elliott had nine assists and three turnovers. They played a man-to-man defense and they really had a hard time matching up with us five-on-five, I felt.”
Kilgore said his team did not adjust to the changes the Bulldogs put in place at halftime, resulting in Cannelton going on an 18-3 run in the period to pull within one at 43-42 entering the final period.
“In the third quarter they made a couple shots to start out and they called a time out and they went into a box-and-one on Thomas, and our kids had a real hard time figuring it out,” he said.
A layup by Wienhorst with 4:40 on the clock put the Tigers on top 43-30, but Cannelton would scored the final 12 points of the period.
“When a team goes box-and-one against one of your players, one of two things happens: either the other guys step up and knock down some shots and they game gets really ugly, or the other guys kind of tense up a little and can’t knock down those perimeter shots,” Kilgore said. “Then you’ve got to figure out how to get it inside against that box-and-one to other players and attack it from the inside-out.”
The Tigers shot 17-for-36 from the floor in the first half, but only 1-for-14 in the third period and 2-for-10 in the fourth.
Kilgore said a plus for his team was making 10 of 12 free throws in the final quarter as Thomas was 6-for-6 at the line during that time.
“That’s really big in a close game for our younger players,” Kilgore said.
The Tigers were 12-for-17 at the line overall, while the Bulldogs were 8-for-14.
Cannelton held a 50-48 lead with 3:18 remaining.
“They took the lead and we battled back and I think that’s something to hang our hat on with a young team like we are, playing two sophomores and a freshman most of the game,” Kilgore said. “I told them ‘yes, I would rather walked out of here with a 20- or 30-point win, but I would rather win ugly than lose pretty.’”
The Tigers’ next game is Jan. 6 against Bloomington Lighthouse. Kilgore said he will give the team a few days off for Christmas.
When practices resume “obviously we’re going to have to figure out how to attack a box-and-one better because we’re probably going to see it for the next three and one-half years,” Kilgore said.
“I’ve already been in discussion with a few other coaches about what is the best way to attack one. It’s something we haven’t had to worry about at Crothersville very often. I’m sure once this film gets out, a lot of teams will run it. Once we get it figured out in the next couple weeks we’ll be fine because we’ve got three or four other kids besides Josh that can play the game.”
Wienhorst topped the Tigers (4-8) with 18 points, Thomas scored 15 and Conner O’Sullivan finished with 12.
Garrett was high for Cannelton (0-9) with 19, Jacob Pearey scored 16 and David Reed 12.