FORT WAYNE – Well, it was Senior Night.
So here in the Hutzell Athletic Center was Saint Francis senior Scott Kohne, ditching the Xs-and-Os and coming out to meet the last inbounds pass with 1.7 seconds left. And then turning, fading away, launching a cloud-scraping jumper from well beyond the 3-point line a half-a-gasp ahead of the horn.
Down the throat it went.
Off went a screaming Kohne racing toward the far end of the floor, celebrating a miracle 62-60 win for the No. 19 Cougars over No. 12 Huntington.
Threw it up, it went in, Kohne said a few minutes later, still trying to catch his breath. What a win.
His coach, Chad LaCross, seconded that motion.
What a way to go out as far as your last home regular season game for Scott, he said. Not the play that we drew up. He was supposed to get on the block, or we were supposed to get another guy to the top of the key. But he’s been making big plays for the last three or four years.
And where did this one rank?
This was the biggest game of the year, said Kohne, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds, two steals and two assists in his last game in Hutzell. Glad it came out our way.
That it did owed a lot to a couple of guys named Comer and not quite 10 minutes of crucial effort on defense, just when it seemed the Foresters (23-6, 12-5 Crossroads League) were poised to put away the Cougars (20-9, 12-5) for the second time this season.
A 14-2 surge to begin the second half cut pushed the Foresters from a 28-28 halftime tie to a 42-30 lead, thanks in large part to 6-foot-5 forward Shane Merryman, who scored eight of his 25 points in the run.
That grew to 52-39 with 11:26 to play, and the Cougars looked done.
But Spencer Comer, with help, held Merryman to just two points the rest of the way, and the Cougars clawed their way back into it.
Led by Josh Hogan (18 points) and freshman Kegan Comer, who scored 13 of his 18 in the second half, they scored 20 of the next 24 points to take a 59-56 lead with 1:49 left.
When we’re playing well, we’re pretty good defensively, and I thought that stretch turned the game around for us, LaCross said. It’s kind of been the way we’ve played all year, really, just never give up. I think at one time we had seven straight stops and that was key.
And still it took Kohne’s shot to finish it after Merryman’s last bucket and Daniel Woll’s straight-on jumper got the lead back for Huntington with 5.9 seconds left.
We really shut down Shane the second half there for a little stretch, we were rebounding, and the bench did great, said Kohne, whose team’s bench outscored Huntington’s 24-6. Everybody did great. I just happened to hit a lucky shot.