LAMOILLE — It was a bit of a roller coaster ride for the LaMoille-Ohio Lions Friday, as the hosts forged ahead by as many as 20 points early, fell behind by five late, then rallied to score as time expired, lifting the Lions to a 54-52 win over Newark.
The Lions improved to 13-4, 2-1 on the season, thanks to a long pass from Carter Cherry to Marcus Winn, whose layup at the buzzer was ruled to be in time to allow L-O to post a dramatic, last-second victory over its Little Ten Conference foe.
A 3-pointer by Luke Moore with 5.8 left in the first quarter gave the Lions a 16-11 lead after eight minutes. It also started an 18-0 offensive run by the Lions that turned a 13-11 lead into a 31-11 edge with 4:34 left in the second frame.
“The crowd was into it. The boys were just going (at it). I told them, you get up early on teams like this, you just have to put them away. We were doing that, we were doing that,” L-O coach Kenny Shrimplin said.
The Lions settled for a dozen-point lead, 37-25, at the break.
Newark fought back, going on a 19-2 run as the hosts netted only a pair of Corey Pinter free throws in the third quarter.
Thus, the Norsemen carried a 44-39 lead into the final frame.
“Our third quarter was pretty weak tonight,” Shrimplin said. “Usually, that’s our strong suit. But tonight it was our weak suit for some reason. They (Newark) came out and started hitting their shots. We just kind of got carried away on offense. The first three possessions were one pass then a shot. I told them, we need to work it. We were up 12. Use the lead.
“And they came out and started firing away. I knew sooner or later Newark was going to get hot. And they got hot and started hitting shots. Scouting report says they live and die with the three. Seven three-pointers doesn’t surprise me.”
Two Winn free throws and Moore’s fourth trey of the night knotted the score at 44 with 6:23 left in the game.
“Luke was hot. In practice, I said, ‘Hey, set your feet, relax, get a good shot.’ He did that the first half,” said Shrimplin. “And when he started hitting those babies (3s), I was like, there’s the Luke Moore that I know. He did very good. And he hit a (big) 3-pointer there in the fourth quarter to help us.”
From there, the contest was tied again at 46, 47, 50, and 52, the last two times courtesy of strong layups by the Lions’ Max Ryjov off the bench, via assists from Casen Cherry and then Winn with 1:54 and :33.6 showing on the clock.
“Before the game, Max came up to me and said, ‘I can’t start. I hurt my ankle,’” Shrimplin said. “So, I was kind of worried about putting him in or not. And I looked at my coach, Matt Krug. I said, ‘do we put Max in right now?’ He said, ‘Go for it.’
“(We) put him in the game, and he just came in and said, ‘Give me the ball, basically.’ He was huge for us. He came in at a great time.”
Tied at 52, over the final 15 seconds or so, Newark failed on three attempts at the basket. The Lions finally rebounded the ball, tossed it ahead to Winn, and Winn ultimately earned L-O the win with his late, open layup.
Moore led all scorers with 14 points, followed by nine each from Winn and Casen Cherry. Casen Cherry also grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds for the winners.
Nate Christian and Austin Tollefson scored 13 points apiece for the Norsemen (8-10, 2-3).
Newark won the prelim, 51-29.