Whenever Midway needed something big to happen Wednesday night, it turned to its smallest player.
Sophomore guard Anthony Scott scored 15 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:38 to go that gave the Panthers a lead they never let get away in a crucial 58-51 District 8-6A win over No. 13 Killeen Ellison.
“For us to stay in the thick of the race, it was huge,” Midway coach Brad Chasteen said. “We could have lost the game and still been OK, but to stay with a chance of being near the top, we needed to win the game.”
Midway (5-1 district) never trailed after Scott’s giant shot, but the win was anything but a given.
A couple of missed opportunities in the final seconds sealed Ellison’s fate.
The first came when Amir Davis split a pair of free throws to make it a 54-51 game, and his teammate Avantae Bell grabbed the offensive rebound but missed a putback attempt. The ball was knocked out of bounds with less than 15 seconds to go and stayed with Ellison.
The Eagles (5-1 district) tried to pass the ball into the post, but it was knocked out and grabbed by Midway’s Ricky Lacy. He and Kaitori Levenston combined to go 4-for-4 from the line in the final seconds to put the game away for good.
“We had our senior Ricky Lacy, who’s one of our best shooters, going to the line most of the time (in the fourth quarter). That was important for us,” Chasten said. “But yeah, it was important for us to make our free throws, especially in a war like that. And those guys (Ellison) were 15-for-39 in a recent game, and it felt like the made every free throw.”
Neither team missed many free throws in the fourth quarter, the place from where most of the scoring occurred during that time.
Midway was 14-for-17 and Ellison was 14-for-16 from the charity stripe in the game’s final eight minutes, after the referees had mostly allowed the teams to play through contact for the first three quarters.
“What I’m most proud of our kids about the most was we haven’t always played physical basketball, power basketball,” Chasteen said. “We did tonight, and we had to. They’re big, strong and long, and the officials were letting us play, which we like. We matched their intensity and their strength. I was really proud of that.”
The Panthers’ last 10 points came on free throws, with Lacy hitting seven of them as he had nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Diego Gonzalez helped Midway take its largest lead of the game until the final buzzer at 41-35 by scoring his team’s first eight points of the fourth quarter. He finished with 11.
Casey Armour led all scorers with 19 points for Ellison, including a highlight-reel three-point play when he took some contact, threw the ball high in the air and watched as it barely even hit net on the way through the hoop.
That tied the game at 41 with 3:53 to go and set the stage for Scott’s clutch 3 from the right wing 15 seconds later. Scott, who stands about 5-foot-7, also grabbed seven rebounds.
“His heart is gigantic, and he’s our leader emotionally,” Chasteen said. “It wasn’t one of his highest-scoring games, but he made plays. The big 3 in front of the bench settled us down because we were in kind of a danger area at that time. But he brings it every night.”
Midway ran out of the gates to a 9-3 lead and trailed three times, never by more than two. That deficit came at the 5:23 mark of the third quarter when Armour made a three-point play and two free throws in a 22-second span.
But the Panthers answered with short jumper from Jaylon Lee and four straight Scott free throws to regain control.
Shamir Bogues scored 13 points for Ellison, including a long 3-pointer that cut its deficit to 23-22 at the halftime buzzer.