Boys Varsity Basketball · Stars fall just short against Hornets

DOVER – Western Boone was seconds away from ending a 20-year sectional drought on Saturday night against Rossville.

But after leading for nearly the entire second half, the Stars couldn’t close out the win.

Rossville’s Dirk Shaw made two free throws with 6.2 seconds left, and Evan Price blocked Spencer Wright’s game-winning lay-up attempt in the final seconds, as the Hornets ended the Stars season 47-45 in the Sectional 38 title game.

“It was a heck of a game, and I felt like at times we could have extended our lead, but we could just never get over that hump,” Western Boone head coach Josh Burkett said. “They hung around and hung around and then it came down to free throws. We made them early, we just struggled late.”

The game was tied at 44 with 2:36 left when Wright was fouled and went to the line for a 1-and-1. He made the first and missed the second, but the Stars got the offensive rebound.

Western Boone was able to take nearly two minutes off the clock, but turned it over with 45.1 seconds to go.

Wright drew a charge on the next possession to give the Stars the ball back, and Cortez Stoudemire was fouled with 22.8 to play and WeBo up one. He missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, but Connor Hole got the offensive rebound and got the ball to Wright who was fouled with 16.9 to go.

But Wright missed both free throws, and Rossville got another chance at the win.

The Stars started the game 12 of 15 from the free throw line, but made just one of their last five attempts.

“It’s unfortunate, a lot of it is a mental game when you are shooting free throws,” Burkett said. “You never know in that situation how it’s going to go. It was a big environment, probably the biggest we had this year, and it just happened. I hate it for our guys, because they deserved this and I wanted it for them so bad.”

Rossville brought the ball up court and got the ball in the hands of Shaw, who led all scorers with 16 points.

He drove into the lane and Stoudemire tried to draw the charge, but the 50-50 call went against WeBo.

Shaw made both free throws to give the Hornets the lead with 6.2 seconds left, and WeBo got the ball in the hands of Wright.

The senior got to the lane, but Price was able to block the shot from behind on the right block and Rossville secured the rebound with 0.7 seconds left.

“That blocking foul, we watched it back and it was pretty close, but you can’t leave it late like that,” Burkett said. “Spencer got a good drive, and did what we wanted to, we executed it well, it just didn’t work out.”

Western Boone had chances to grab a bigger lead throughout the first three quarters.

The Stars led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter, but Western Boone went 8:16 without a field goal spanning the first and second quarters to allow the Hornets to go on a 9-3 spurt.

After being tied at 22 at the half, Western Boone was able to take the biggest lead of the game with 3:51 to go in the third quarter after going on an 8-0 run, getting two 3-pointers from Connor Hole in the process.

But the Hornets scored the next six points to get within two and trailed by three at the the end of three.

WeBo was able to push the lead to five with 6:32 to go, but again Rossville had the answer, going on a 6-0 spurt to go up 42-41 and set up the frantic final minutes.

“We wanted to jump on them early in the second half, and felt like we could because we had some things we could clean up from the first half,” Burkett said. “It just never really came to fruition.”

Hole led the Stars with 13 points, with McAtee adding 11 and Wright 10.

Stoudemire had eight.

It was the final game at Western Boone for Hole, Stoudemire, Wright, Caleb Freeman, Jake Jones and Brett Wethington, an outstanding senior class that has meant a lot of Western Boone in multiple sports.

“One, the way they welcomed me in this year is something I will remember,” Burkett said. “And two, they are winners and they enjoy being around each other. It’s been fun every day in the gym being around them, off the court too. They really like each other, and when you get special groups like them, they set a pretty high bar for the future.

“They definitely had a championship culture impact on our younger guys and they have really brought the young guys along this year. I really appreciate everything they did on and off the court.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Lebanon Reporter and Zionsville Times Sentinel. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.