By Will Willems
GREENCASTLE – There were plenty of times that the Western Boone boys basketball team could have folded Wednesday night in the sectional opener against Frankfort.
They saw a double-digit lead disappear seemingly in the blink of an eye in the third quarter.
Then, they saw the Hot Dogs score on a miracle buzzer-beater at the end of regulation to force overtime.
In overtime, they trailed by three in the final minute.
But time after time, the Stars responded. And after a 64-61 win over Frankfort, they advance to the sectional semifinals.
“We had ever chance to put our tail between our legs and feel sorry for ourselves,” Western Boone head coach J.R. Howell said. “We just kept battling and we told the guys that if we got to overtime, we were going to win. It took us two overtimes, but I am just really, really proud of them.”
Western Boone led by 13 at the half, and by nine with under four minutes left in the third quarter.
But Frankfort used a 13-3 run to take a one-point lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Frankfort led by four with 4:21 to play, but back-to-back 3s by Marshall Hodgen and Garrett Miller gave the Stars a 48-46 lead with 3:08 to play.
The teams battled back-and-forth, with Western Boone clinging to a two-point lead with 1.5 seconds left.
Frankfort ran a play for leading scorer Carter Taylor, but the all he could do was tip the ball in the air. Unfortunately for Western Boone, it landed right in the hands of Alex Siegfried, who made a lay-up at the buzzer to force overtime.
“You wish that was spread throughout the entire sectional, rather than one game, but anytime you can get a win the way we did is big,” Howell said. “We survived the ups and downs and came out on top. That is a testament to our players and their determination to get it done.”
Frankfort took the advantage in the first overtime, building a 58-55 lead with 46 seconds remaining.
The Stars were able to tie the game on a 3-pointer by Lucas Morton with 20 seconds left, and Siegfried’s attempt at a game-winning 3 was well off the mark, forcing the game into a second overtime.
Western Boone struck first in the second overtime, with Peyton Young scoring with 2:52 left in the game. Neither team scored again until 29.2 seconds remained, when Tom Hendrix pushed the lead to four with two free throws.
Siegfried hit a 3-pointer, with 9.4 seconds left, and after Hodgen made one of two free throws, Taylor airballed a 3-pointer for the lead with a second left. Hodgen made 1 of 2 free throws to ice it.
“We got down in the first overtime, and when that happens in a sectional, you can very easily cower down,” Howell said. “But we battled. The way we played and the composure that we had in the overtime – taking care of the ball, and not being rushed – we were solid. That is what you need to do to win games in the tournament.”
Hodgen scored a career high 33 points to lead Western Boone.
Young added 10, with Hendrix scoring seven.
Howell said Hodgen had his best game of the season.
“I have been waiting on that Marshall all year and I am glad he showed up tonight,” Howell said. “It was a heck of a game by him. He was solid all game. He controlled the game. He was being pressured the whole game and they tried to deny him. We got him some open looks, and you love to seniors develop and flourish like that at the end of their careers. I am proud of the way he has played, especially tonight.”
Next up for the Stars is a match-up with Lebanon, who beat Western Boone 52-39 on Dec. 9
The Tigers defeated North Montgomery 55-44 on Wednesday.
“We have to come prepared and ready to play,” Howell said. “In the tournament, anything can happen. You saw that in some games last night with some miracle shots and you had some great plays that kids made today. At the end of the day, when you get to the second and third games of a sectional, the kids play. Hopefully you have coached them well enough throughout the year that they don’t revert back to anything you haven’t talked about and they can get the job done.”