MCCONNELLSBURG - With less than 10 seconds to go in a tied boys basketball game, McConnellsburg guard Jake Boehme had done his job.
He drove a hard path to the lane, drawing in a number of James Buchanan defenders. He kicked it out, and it was down to Landon Richards to get the job done.
"Jake got it, and we figured everybody would collapse and we would get an easy kickout," Spartan coach Dane Pollock said. "We pinned down on the block, and Landon's favorite shot is the baseline, so that's where it was going."
Boehme swung a quick pass to Richards with the seconds quickly ticking away. Richards grabbed the ball with 2.6 seconds left. Somehow, he got his feet set and let one fly.
"I thought it was long, honestly," Richards said.
It wasn't. The ball hit the far side of the rim and fell back through the netting, to send McConnellsburg to a 46-43 non-league victory in front of packed house on Saturday night.
"It just kind of happened," Richards said. "Jake drove in, and I ended up in the corner without a man. I was so happy it went in. I saw everyone running at me, and I didn't even know what to think."
JB coach Larry Strawoet said, "It makes no difference to us (what play they were going to run). We have a certain defensive scheme that we play, and that's where we're at. It was a money shot, and it went in."
McConnellsburg (16-4) had its work cut out for it from the opening tip. After Chase Novak scored a 3-pointer to open the game, 6-foot-5 forward Ryan Hege came alive for James Buchanan (12-9). He reeled off six straight points.
Hege finished the first half with 12 points and five rebounds, but was held to just one point and four boards in the second half. The Rockets led 25-20 at the break.
"Our big guys did better in the second half against their big guys," Pollock said. "We couldn't get Hege off us early. We tried fronting him, we tried backing him. It got to the point where we had to be so aggressive that they were either going to call a foul, but we weren't going to just give him two points anymore."
Strawoet said, "The things we were doing well in the first half we stopped doing in the second half. We stopped being patient on the offensive end. This one is on me - another close one lost; that's bad coaching."
Richards made his presence known early and often also. He led the Spartans with 10 points at half and went 4-for-5 from the field in the opening half. It seemed obvious he'd be the one to have his number called when it mattered most.
"We've played the hot hand all year," Pollock said. "I just believe if someone is hot, you go to him, and when Landon shoots it, I believe in it. When he's on and he's confident, he can shoot lights out."
NOTES: Novak also finished in double figures, scoring 16 points ... The Rockets out-rebounded McConnellsburg, 29-16 ... Hege led JB on the boards with 9, while Zach Vosburg and Toby Sowers grabbed 7 and 6, respectively.
McConnellsburg 46, James Buchanan 43
James Buchanan (43)
Gage Piper 2 1-2 6, Zach Vosburg 3 0-0 6, Toby Sowers 1 2-2 6, Cody Tacker 1 2-2 5, Ryan Hege 6 1-3 13, Hunter Sowers 3 1-1 4, Kyle Buchanan 0 2-2 2, Jared Pine 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 9-12 43.
Chase Novak 5 2-2 16, Ian Cheatle 2 2-2 6, Landon Richards 8 0-1 18, Shawn Garlock 0 0-0 0, Jake Boehme 1 4-5 6, Ryan Koontz 0 0-0 0, Chance Hawbaker 0 0-0 0. Totals — 16 8-10 46.
James Buchanan _ 13 _ 12 _ 7 _ 11 _ — _ 43
McConnellsburg _ 8 _ 12 _ 13 _ 13 _ — _ 46
3-point goals — JB 2 (Piper, Tacker), McC 8 (Richards 4, Novak 4).
JV score — McConnellsburg 38, James Buchanan 26. Chance Hawbaker paced the Rockets with 12 points, and Ryland Wassil scored 10.