LAMOILLE – The visiting Leland/Earlville Panthers used a pivotal 19-7 fourth quarter rally to ultimately down the Lions, 55-51, on the LaMoille/Ohio’s Senior Night.
LaMoille/Ohio rallied from an early 9-2 deficit to take a 15-13 lead after eight minutes of play.
But the Panthers evened the game up, 30-all, by the break, by outscoring the Lions, 14-4, over the final 2:35 of the second quarter, including a four-point play by Colin Bomstad with only 5.1 ticks left in the first half.
The Lions held the Panthers to just six points on 2-14 shooting from the field, building a 44-36 lead with eight minutes left.
“I thought we played three-and-a-half great quarters,” L/O coach Brent Kalsto said. “The last half of the fourth quarter, I told them it was coming. They were going to make their run, and we had to protect the basketball. We didn’t protect the basketball.
“We had a lot of good looks, and we made some very silly mistakes at very crucial times. We’re trying to learn that you can’t win a game if you make those mistakes.”
The Lions couldn’t hold on down the stretch, going 2-13 from the floor over the final eight minutes, while the visitors grabbed the lead for good, 51-49, on an Andrew Walsh three-pointer with 3:16 left in the game.
Julian Gonzalez, who finished with 10 points, converted a pair of free throws with 1:49 to go to pull the Lions to within 52-51, but L/O finished scoreless after that, while L/E iced the game by making 3-4 free throws over the final 27.7 seconds.
Brandon Morris paced the Lions (4-19) with 23 points and six rebounds, despite sitting out the entire second quarter with foul trouble.
“We played hard, Senior Night. It was exciting,” said Kalsto of L/O’s last regular season contest. “You’ve got to find a way to close a game out. We had an eight-point lead in the fourth and we just gave it back.”
Walsh poured in a team-high 21 points for the Panthers (9-16), while Bomstad added 11. Danny Pfaff supplied a solid eight points and 10 rebounds.
• Brandon Lowry’s desperation three-pointer from about a dozen feet inside the halfcourt line over the game’s final 1.2 seconds found nothing but net to lift the JV Panthers to a 43-41 win in the prelim. The Lions got a game-high 25 points from Ohio freshman Derek Debruhl.