Despite having the lead in crunch time, Leesville fell short to the Middle Creek Mustangs, 56-53, on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Jonathan Mebane, frehsman, got the ball rolling, scoring Leesville’s first three buckets. Leesville came out energetic on defense, such as an emphatic rejection by Ben Zemonek with 4:31 in the first quarter. Leesville’s 3-2 zone defense proved to be effective and disrupting, holding Middle Creek to 11 points in the first quarter.
“We stayed active and we tried to grab rebounds,” said Russ Frazier, head coach.
Offensively, the Pride had some trouble bringing the ball up the floor against the Middle Creek full-court press. The Mustangs continued to force inopportune turnovers, which would ultimately lead to their victory.
However, Leesville had no problem scoring once the ball was up the court, and took an 18-11 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
The second quarter had a scary moment when Alex Hunter,starting point guard, went down clutching his leg. He would limp off the court, but return later in the quarter.
Despite many offensive rebounds, Leesville struggled to score the board in the second quarter. With 44 seconds left, senior Michael Hopkins scored 2 of the Pride’s 4 points. Their offense failed to complement their defense, and Middle Creek was able to cut the score to 22-19 at the half.
At the beginning of the second half, neither offense was able to get going. A string of missed shots plagued both teams. Finally, senior Brandon Staves’ putback and three-pointer gave the Pride a 27-19 lead. The Mustangs went on a 10-2 run in the closing minutes of the quarter, and the score was 35-31 going into the 4th.
Both offenses finally broke through in the 4th. Leesville was helped by the play of hobbled Alex Hunter. He had a couple of nice passes off dribble penetration and hit a nice floater. Yet, Middle Creek wouldn’t go away. They took the lead at 2:14 off of a three from Middle Creek’s Justin Tankelewicz.
After a couple possessions that ended with free throws, the Pride converted three of four and took a 50-48 lead, which quickly ended when Middle Creek tied the game at 1:15.
Then, things quickly fell apart for Leesville. After back-to-back turnovers for the Pride, they found themselves starting at a 50-55 deficit with less than 20 seconds remaining. A blocked Brandon Staves layup and an irrelevant score later, Middle Creek won 56-53.
“We got a little bit out of control and didn’t stay composed,” Coach Frazier said. “Correctable errors, we need to do things better.”