DELAWARE – Mason White knocked down two free throws with 8 seconds left to give visiting Cardington all the points it would need.
So, a Nathan Stewart pump-fake three-pointer with a second left didn’t change the result as the Delaware Christian boys basketball team came up short in a 52-51 loss to the visiting Pirates in non-league play Monday night.
It was fitting that the game was decided by a pair of free throws at the end. Cardington finished 11 of 13 at the line compared to DCS, which went 8-for-15.
“That’s one thing that we’ve done really well this year … we’ve hit our free throws down the stretch,” Cardington coach Nick Withrow said. “It saved us a couple of times and it obviously saved us tonight.”
“That was the big difference,” DCS coach Jon Landrum said. “Over and over on the bench I kept turning to my coaches and saying ‘If we lose this game it’s going to be because of free throws.’”
Stewart finished with 15 points, James Vasek and Pryce Johnson added 12 apiece and Dayne Johnson had a double-double with 10 points and 12 boards to lead the Eagles (4-2) in the setback.
DCS trailed by as much as 10 late in the first half before Dayne Johnson had a steal in the backcourt and fed to James Vasek for a three-pointer with 5 seconds left to pull the Eagles within 28-22 at the break.
Cardington’s Josh Shook knocked down a three to open the second half.
But the Eagles went on a 16-2 run to take the lead. Pryce Johnson scored nine points during the rally. His three-point play with 4:40 left in the third tied the game at 33 and he followed with a put-back on the next possession to give the Eagles the lead.
The Pirates responded with a 12-2 run of their own. Avery Harper and Shook each knocked down three-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give Cardington a 45-39 lead with 5:11 remaining.
Dayne Johnson tied the game at 48-48 with a three-pointer off a Stewart feed. The play was started by a Vasek feed.
But Cayman Spires found Trey Brininger on a back-door cut for a layup to give the Pirates the lead with 19 seconds left.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids,” Withrow said. “This is a tough place to play and they are a tough team to play. But we fought one out … we grinded one out. We didn’t play that well – we made mistakes. But we – as a team – came away with a win and I’m very proud of my guys.”
Nate Hickman rebounded a Dayne Johnson miss and found White, who was fouled to set up the winning free throws.
“When you play a team as gifted as (Cardington is) – everything matters,” Landrum said. “Every possession matters (and) every free throw matters. At the end of the day, we missed a few more than they did.”
Vasek finished with four steals, Dayne Johnson had four assists and a couple of steals and Pryce Johnson had eight rebounds and two steals for the Eagles.
“We played really hard,” Landrum said. “We got down toward the end and fought back. We had an opportunity at the end, but we fell just a little bit short.”
Harper had 13 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals, Spires had 10 points, three assists and two steals, White had nine points and Brininger finished with eight points and five boards for the Pirates (5-3).
Next up, DCS hosts Johnstown Northridge in non-league play Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
DELAWARE HAYES 43, LICKING HEIGHTS 35
Nate Griggs had a game-high 16 points and Paul Burris added 15 to lead the Pacers to a non-league win over the host Hornets Monday night.
Hayes, which has won two straight, trailed 14-11 at the break, but outscored Licking Heights 32-21 in the second half to account for the final margin.
Griggs scored half of his 16 points in the third quarter while Jaivon Miller led the Hornets with 13 points in the setback.