February 8, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
STEENS -- The Hebron Christian basketball teams will have to make room for new hardware in the trophy case on Monday.
The Hebron Christian girls used a balanced scoring attack to beat Calhoun Academy 46-38 in the Class 1A-District 3 championship game at Immanuel Christian on Saturday.
The Hebron boys then had to work overtime Saturday night to earn a 53-47 victory against Immanuel.
The victories secured the fourth consecutive district title for the girls (10-9), while the boys (20-5) posted their third consecutive district championship.
"Our guys did a lot of things wrong, but they didn''t hang their heads," Hebron Christian coach Sam Pearson said. "They kept their heads and made the plays. We played with key people in foul trouble and played smart long enough for us to hold on and to make a play at the end."
The boys victory came with plenty of drama.
Immanuel''s Nathan peoples made a 3-pointer from the right wing and was fouled with 8.4 seconds remaining in the game to give the Rams (17-16) a 44-43 lead. Peoples hit the free throw to extend the lead to two points.
But Hebron Christian benefited from the officials'' decision to push the clock back to 11 seconds to play.
The Eagles nearly used all of that time, as Carlton Clay missed a 3-pointer from the left wing, but Jordan Jackson was on the right block to put back the rebound and tie the game.
"Carlton couldn''t have asked for a better look," Pearson said. "We preach all of the time that when your teammate puts up a shot, get that backside block because when we miss it, we will have a free layup. He was at the right place at the right time."
Peoples'' shot from outside NBA 3-point range fell short to send the game into overtime.
Ben Little did everything he could in OT to make sure the Eagles went home with the championship trophy.
Already feeling down for going for a shot fake that gave Peoples room to shoot and then compounding the mistake by fouling him, the senior forward scored six of his team''s eight points in the four-minute period.
Little''s drive from the top of the key through a crowd gave Hebron Christian a 49-47 lead it never relinquished.
"He is a smart basketball player," Pearson said. "He knew at the end of the game he didn''t make a very smart play. When we were in the huddle, he very obviously felt bad about it. He took over in overtime."
Immanuel coach Billy Thomas said Little used his height and his strength to go from the top of the key through traffic and help his team take the lead. He credited Hebron Christian for spreading his team''s defense to make Little harder to guard.
Thomas felt the Rams did a fine job of guarding the Eagles in the half-court set. But Saturday was just one of those nights that didn''t fall right for his team.
"If we dress out and play again Monday, we win," Thomas said. "If we play again Tuesday, they win. We are just two evenly matched teams that played hard for four quarters. Tonight it was for four and half."
Little led Hebron Christian with 18 points, while Clay and JoJo Pearson added 14 and nine, respectively.
Jamie Gore and Mark Lee paced Immanuel with 14 points apiece. Peoples added 11.
The boys all-district tournament team included Justin James, Gore, and Peoples from Immanuel and Will Watkins, Clay, Little, and Pearson from Hebron Christian.
n Hebron Christian 46, Calhoun Academy 38: The Lady Eagles had to do some work late to secure their fourth consecutive Class 1A-District 3 title.
Tori Nichols had 11 points and Lincoln Pearson added 10 to lead a balanced effort. Maci Towery had seven points, Hillary Arnold had five, and Magen Tapley added four as the Lady Eagles controlled the offensive boards (19 for 13 second-chance points).
"We were excited because it was the championship game," Towery said. "(Rebounding) is the most important thing to us because you can do it on both ends of the court. We were pumped up. We knew we could do it."
Towery, a senior, said the players knew they had to attack both backboards if they wanted to beat Calhoun Academy for the first time in three meetings this season.
Laura Beth Moore paced Hebron Christian with 15 rebounds, while Nichols, who played limited minutes due to fouls trouble, had nine.
"We knew if we didn''t make a concentrated effort to do that they were going to out rebound us because they have some pretty big girls," Pearson said. "We had to be real active, real determined, and the girls came through."
"When we were 0-6, even 1-8 at one point, we always did some things right," Pearson said. "I knew before the season started that we had talent, it was just young. It was just a matter of us coming together, growing, and learning how to finish things off."
The Lady Eagles nearly frittered the game away from the free-throw line, going 1 of 9 to start the fourth quarter. The misses helped Calhoun Academy close to within 42-38 on a 3-pointer with 1 minute, 28 seconds to play.
But Towery hit 3 of 4 and Pearson hit 2 of 2 to seal the deal.
Still, Hebron Christian (10-9), which has won nine of its last 10 games, was 7 of 24 from the stripe for the game.
"Free throws were horrible until the stretch," Pearson said. "When we needed them the most, we found a way to put them in the cylinder."
The girls all-district team included Tara Baudoin of Immanuel and Laura Beth Moore, Cathryn Moore, Towery, and Pearson of Hebron Christian.
Hebron Christian''s boys and girls teams receive byes for winning their district tournaments. They will play opponents to be determined Tuesday.
The Immanuel boys will play an opponent to be determined, likely a No. 3 seed, on Monday or Tuesday at Delta Academy in Marks.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.