Mikel's late 3 lifts Eastside
Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 12:33 a.m.
Like a guided arrow, Cory Mikel's 3-point shot fell out of the sky, floated effortlessly through the basket as time expired and landed square in the heel of the Buchholz basketball team, snatching a 49-48 win for Eastside.
That Bobcat Achilles' Heel was built largely on poor foul shooting down the stretch as Buchholz had a chance to put the non-district rivalry game away but couldn't convert.
Both senior guard Taylor Imperi and sophomore Blake Hyden missed key free throws, Hyden's coming with 17 seconds left and the Bobcats clinging to a 48-46 lead.
Eastside actually went for the tie first, but Buchholz forward Chris Washington blocked that attempt out of bounds with 1.5 seconds to play.
That set the stage for Mikel's clutch shot, which he fired off an inbound pass, giving Eastside its only lead of the game.
"Give Chris credit, he hit a big shot," Buchholz coach Bob Horodyski said. "That shot wouldn't have mattered if we had the (nerve) to step up and hit a free throw, though. It never should have come down to a last-second shot."
For most of the first half, it never looked like it would. Behind strong 3-point shooting from Kyle Moore and Dan Frank, Buchholz built a 27-16 lead with a couple of minutes remaining before the break.
In fact, if not for Eastside's Tim Shankle, who scored 12 of those 16 points and finished with 17 on the night to lead all scorers, the Bobcats might have run away with the contest.
Using stout inside defense and a refusal to give up, Eastside cut the lead to 27-23 by the break.
"This wasn't a game we needed," Eastside coach Pop Williams said. "It's not a district game. Still, these are the kids that our kids see at the mall and when they go to play ball in the park. They wanted this one."
Ironically, Eastside won the game with a 3-pointer, considering the Rams only hit two in the game, the first coming with 4:37 to play, also from Mikel.
Buchholz was the team hitting from the perimeter, with six 3s in all, five coming in the first half. In fact, thanks to fouls, and inexperience from their big men, the Bobcats mounted little half court offense in the paint.
"We have some youth on the inside," Williams said. "That's certainly where I thought they would attack us. I can't say enough about how my players stepped up tonight."
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