Mar. 7—DELPHI — Saturday night's sectional championship game between Lewis Cass and Rochester was a great game with a raucous atmosphere that went down to the wire.
The key sequence of the game just happened to go the Zebras' way.
A six-point possession with about two minutes ago that broke open a tie game proved too much for the Kings to overcome. The Zebras went on to a 53-50 win in the Class 2A Delphi Sectional championship game.
The No. 10-ranked Zebras (18-1) avenged their only loss of the season and repeated as sectional champs. They will face Rossville (17-7) at the Lapel Regional after missing out on the regional round last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kings finish 13-12.
The game was tied 44-all when Quin Stesiak drilled a 3 from the left corner with 2:36 remaining. The Kings were called for a foul for running through a screen and the officials counted the basket and sent Kyle Reinartz to the line for a 1-and-1. He made the first but missed the second. Stesiak rebounded the miss and was awarded a timeout before the Kings could force a jump ball. Tarick McGlothin later scored on a drive with 2:00 left to complete a six-point possession and make it a 50-44 game.
"I thought the foul was called before he shot the 3. I think it should have just been a 1-and-1, that six-point swing really hurt us," Cass coach Kyle Johnson said. "But I'll watch it on film but it's not going to do anything to help us now. But those are tough plays you've got to get through and we've got to try not to put ourselves in those positions. Was he moving on the screen? There's so many different excuses we could have, but at the same time when we get up five, we've got to keep taking good shots and make sure we're patiently aggressive instead of just chucking up easy ones. But I'm proud of these guys and I'm proud to be a Cass King."
The Kings, who had led 41-36 earlier in the quarter, found themselves down six. Tyson Good scored four straight points, but Grant McCarter hit two free throws in the one-and-bonus to make it 52-48 with 21.3 seconds left. The Kings missed on two 3-point attempts and McCarter made 1 of 2 free throws with 8.1 seconds left. Good had a tip-in at the buzzer for the final score.
There were a total of nine ties and 12 lead changes in the contest. Cass led 12-11 after one. It was tied 24-all at halftime. Cass led 36-34 after three.
Rochester shot 9 of 13 from 3-point range (69%). Stesiak had 20 points on 5 of 6 shooting from 3. McGlothin scored 19 points. He made all three of his 3-point attempts and added five assists. McCarter and Reinartz added five points apiece, and Blake Hughes added four.
Good scored 13 points for the Kings. Nolan Young had 12 points on 4 of 7 shooting from 3. Tyson Johnson had 10 points, five boards and seven assists. Tristin Miller had seven points and six rebounds. Carson Vest added three points. Luke Chambers added three steals and two points. Robert Fitch hit a big 3 that tied the game at 44-all with 2:55 left.
It was the final game for Cass seniors Johnson, Young, Vest, Blaine Rudd and Keegan Lytle.
"I'm super proud of these seniors, super proud of their effort," coach Johnson said. "It just wasn't meant to be for us tonight, but they battled to the very end. Our record might not look as good as we wanted it to, but the same time we had a great season. I sure wish we were playing next Saturday. Good job by them hitting free throws down the stretch.
"I thought we brought it together in almost every area. We just had a couple miscues. When you get into a sectional championship, every possession is very valuable and there were just a couple miscues offensively. We rushed a couple shots when we shouldn't have and it would have been better to get to the basket instead of rushing a 3.
"We've got a great group coming back, but at the same time, I've got seniors that have a great deal of class, they're very selfless, very humble. It's tough being the last time I get to coach my son and along with all the other seniors, they put their heart into it. I thought Tyson Johnson did a great job on McCarter. Stesiak had a heck of the game and he was probably the difference from the game in December when we were able to get them and he didn't play. We prepared for him and he just did a good job.
"I'll go to war with these guys anytime and I'm just proud of them. I'm going to miss coaching my son, I'm going to miss coaching these seniors. Cass Kings basketball is creating a great program on top of great tradition and we hope to keep getting better as the years go on."