March 1, 2012

Late Surge Saves Tigers in Regular Season Finale

Andrew Mathes.

A big lead for most of the game disappeared late for Scotland County in Queen City on Thursday night, but in the blink of an eye, the Tigers salvaged a 57-56 victory to close out the regular season on a high note.

The Tigers built a double digit lead in the third period, but saw Schuyler County battle back to pull ahead midway through the fourth quarter.

Trailing 56-52 with less than a minute to play, Cordie Kigar connected on a three pointer. Harley Stone then stole the inbounds pass and converted on the fast break to put SCR-I ahead 57-56.

That proved to be the winning margin as neither team could convert on their final possessions in the game's last seconds.

While Schuyler County had all of its seniors in the starting lineup on senior night, Scotland County featured a starting five of three sophomores and two freshmen. The team had lost its third senior to season injury just two nights before when point guard Drew Miller suffered a serious ankle injury.

Schuyler County took advantage of the youngsters, building a 7-2 lead early in the game. Lucas Howard kept SCR-I close with four early points. Senior Harley Stone came off the bench to hit a three pointer to tie the game at 7-7.

Stone and fellow senior Andrew Mathes entered the game with a flurry of scoring, accounting for the Tigers next nine points before Howard made a pair of free throws to end the first quarter with a 15-11 lead for SCR-I.

Back-to-back buckets by Stone and Mathes to start the second period pushed the lead to 19-11 and forced a Schuyler County timeout at the 6:40 mark.

The two teams traded buckets the remainder of the second period with the Tigers taking a 27-16 lead to the locker room.

The Tigers looked poised to blow the game open in the third period. Jacob Blessing hit a three pointer and Brice Cowell followed it with a pair of scores in the paint. Mathes scored on the next two possessions to give SCR-I its biggest lead of the night at 38-25.

But Schuyler answered, and a three pointer at the buzzer trimmed the deficit to 40-33.

The momentum swing carried over into the fourth period. The Rams cut the lead further courtesy of a three pointer that caromed in off the backboard, making it a four point game. Schuyler then took advantage of the absence of Miller, attacking SCR-I's ball handlers with a trap on defense that resulted in several turnovers. The result was a 48-44 Schuyler County lead with 6:03 left to play.

The teams traded baskets over the next four minutes before a score by Blessing made it 53-50 in favor of the home team with 2:40 remaining on the clock.

Schuyler appeared headed for victory, holding a 55-50 lead with less than a minute to play. Blessing came up with a steal on defense and converted on the fast break. After a Schuyler County free throw, Kigar hit his lone field goal of the night, a key three pointer. Stone followed with the big defensive play and scored on the transition. He was fouled on the play, but missed the free throw. The Tigers missed two more free throws, but their defense shut out the Rams in the final seconds to secure the win.

Stone scored 15 points to lead the Tigers to the win. Mathes added 14 points and Blessing finished with 11 points. Howard had eight points before leaving the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. SCR-I finished the regular season with a 11-12 mark and a 6-4 record in Tri-Rivers Conference play.

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