by Beau Wicker
An exhilarating fourth-quarter comeback by Logansport was trumped by a seemingly impossible last-second shot by McCutcheon.
McCutcheon sophomore Tre’Shon Heard buried a nearly fullcourt-length shot at the buzzer to lift the Mavericks to a 56-53 win over the Berries on Friday night at the Class 4A Lafayette Jeff Sectional. The Mavericks (15-8) face No. 8 Kokomo (21-2) for the sectional title tonight.
Heard grabbed a defensive rebound in the final second and standing just inside the HCC sign in the paint, he heaved the ball from one end of the court to the other — about 65 feet — before it splashed through the net.
“That last shot, it’s unbelievable, I don’t know how it went in,” Heard said.
The shot was already featured on SportsCenter and circulating on YouTube late on Friday night.
“I guess today was my time to shine and knock it down,” Heard said. “We practice fullcourt shots and we just throw them up there and we get them in there.”
McCutcheon coach Rick Peckinpaugh confirmed that his team does indeed practice such improbable shots.
“We practice those. Every Thursday the day before a game you’ve got to make a halfcourt shot before you leave,” he said.
The shot wiped out a huge fourth-quarter comeback by Logansport (12-9). The Berries had looked dead in the water when they trailed 47-31 with just over six minutes left in the game.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Todd Yeoman and Jayson Higgins sparked a 16-0 run over the next four minutes.
The Berries forced several turnovers during the surge that turned into fastbreak opportunities. Antonio Penny had three steals and Yeoman, Higgins and Andrew Wamsley each added a steal to lead the charge. Penny also scored 11 straight points for the Berries during one stretch of the fourth quarter.
Another Higgins 3-pointer with 50 seconds left tied the game back up again at 51-all. Jacob Snow came up with a steal, drew a foul and hit both free throws with 35.3 seconds remaining to give the Berries a 53-51 lead, their first lead since late in the first quarter.
Heard was fouled on an offensive rebound with 18.1 seconds left and hit both free throws to tie the game back up. His first free throw attempt rolled and bounced around the rim about three times before dropping.
The Berries set up what was supposed to be the last shot of regulation. In the closing seconds Penny dribbled into the right corner where he was met by tight defense applied by the Mavericks. He had a poor angle on an off-balanced shot from 18 feet with four seconds remaining. If the shot would have at least drawn iron, the Mavericks would not have had a chance at a buzzer beater. But it did not, and Heard grabbed the ball out of the air and with no defenders near him, he heaved the ball with both hands into the basket on the other end of the court.
“I know when the ball left that kid’s hands, the ball was going in slow motion the length of the floor,” Logan coach Mark Victor said.
The Berries had all the momentum up to that point after the big comeback, and two of the Mavericks’ top players had fouled out in Nathaniel Acree and Trevor Lockwood.
“If I had it right, I thought they were going to win the game,” Peckinpaugh said. “I don’t think if we would’ve went into overtime we would’ve had a shot with our guys in foul trouble. They had all the momentum. That’s just how the doggone game of basketball works. ... They call it March Madness for a reason. It’s maddening. You hate to lose these type of games. It’s heartbreaking. My heart goes out to the Logansport kids. They fought back and did a great job.”
Penny had 25 points, nine rebounds, four steals and four assists to lead the Berries. He finished his fine career with 1,543 points and is Logansport’s second all-time leading scorer in boys basketball.
Penny had an electrifying performance in his final game for the Berries overall, but he shot just 11 of 22 from the foul line for the game including 5 of 10 in the fourth quarter.
Higgins faced a box-and-one defense most of the night but still finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. He finishes his senior campaign as the state leader in made 3-pointers with 78 after missing the entire regular season last year as a junior.
Yeoman had five points and three steals. Wamsley had four points and seven rebounds. Snow scored four points, and Bo Bullard added three points, five rebounds and four assists.
Lockwood led the Mavs with 13 points and six rebounds. Acree and Mark Neill had 12 points apiece, and Heard finished with 10 points, six assists and five rebounds.
McCutcheon went 18 of 22 from the foul line, and Logan went 17 of 31.
“That’s been our Achilles all year long and it came back to bite us,” Victor said of the free throw shooting. “But I’m proud of our kids, they fight hard and they battle hard and they never quit. I hope our younger guys take note of that because our seniors, our upperclassmen never say die.”
Higgins was proud of his team’s effort in his final game. The Berries trailed as much as 36-18 late in the third quarter. They were held to just two points total in the second quarter and trailed 22-12 at halftime.
“Just to be in that situation of the game was outstanding. We were down 18 at one point,” Higgins said. “We kept fighting back and had the heart. Our six seniors all grew up tonight. We gave everything we had.
“We didn’t hold anything back. It was an amazing game.”
Said Penny, “We knew this was possibly the last time we could be playing high school basketball. We went out and we fought. That shot he threw in at the end, it was a good shot, there’s nothing we can do about it.”