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Elco stuns Lebanon with late game-winner

Elco's Colton Lawrence hits a game-winner to lead the Raiders past Lebanon, 61-60

Spearheading a furious 16-point comeback, Elco senior Colton Lawrence deserved the game-winning finish he furnished in his last tip-off tournament game at Lebanon High School. Of that, there is no debate.

No debate right up until the final horn, which has and will always signal a given game's end on the hardwood. That is except Saturday, when a charging Lawrence pulled up to release his decisive 3-pointer out of the right wing and for a split-second maintained possession as the horn blared. Then his shot rose, arched and fell swiftly through the net, leading to a spill of joyous, victorious Raiders on the court.

For by referees' decree the shot had counted, thus marking it the end to a game that leading up to Lawrence's heroics had been equally unbelievable.

Lifted by Lawrence's late 3-pointer, the Elco boys basketball team completed a stunning 61-60 win over Lebanon for the 2015 Lebanon Tip-off Tournament title. Lawrence led all scorers with a game-best 29 points, including 20 dropped after halftime. The Raiders trailed 30-16 at intermission, the only break of a thriller that served as the continuous focus of a postseason-like crowd.

"That's been a dream of mine for a while, especially in a game like this with an atmosphere like that," Lawrence said of his game-winner. "I knew I had to take the shot, and even though I got a little flustered at the other end of the floor that I had time left to get down. I shot it and knew it was in as soon as I let go."

The shot was born from a missed Felix Kortright free throw at 5.4 to play, after Elco, down 60-58, fouled the Lebanon sophomore before the Cedars could inbound. Lawrence, who had sunk another 3-pointer on the possession prior, then collected Kortright's miss once it had been tapped around and flew down to eventually launch his game-winner.

As certain as Lawrence was of the shot's accuracy, Lebanon coach Tim Speraw stood firm in his belief of its lateness, a fact later proven by video.

"That's on film, that's indisputable. It was after the buzzer. But that 3-pointer didn't cost us the game," Speraw said. "The six, seven 3-pointers that led up to that and got us in that situation cost us the game."

That string of treys began with Elco junior Nate Beamer, who connected from long range at 38 seconds left to cut the Cedars' lead to 58-52. Raiders co-captain Caleb Buchmoyer next stuck a 3-ball at 0:18 remaining for a one-possession game, before Lebanon's Camryn Shaak (19 points) was fouled and subsequently drained a pair of free throws.

Shaak stole the show early with his own Lawrence-like performance, knocking down three straight treys in the opening six minutes, en route to a 20-7 Lebanon advantage after the first quarter. The Cedars then held on through a physical second stanza that featured as many tumbles in the paint as you'd typically find on a gymnastics mat.

From there, Elco worked its way back to a 40-34 deficit after three quarters, unrelenting and seemingly unaffected by the outside noise and pressure. While Lawrence and Buchmoyer sank shots, Beamer often forced turnovers and snared rebounds, pushing collectively until victory belonged to the resilient Raiders.

"In the huddle, there was never a crack or a sign of give-in. We do need to win games like that, and it's something we can build on," Elco coach Brad Conners said. "It was goal No. 1, and we check that one off. This is the one we've been talking about for a while. With this group that we have, we've been preparing for a couple years now.

"It didn't go exactly like we thought it would, but the outcome, we'll take it."

Only one weekend through, and yet truer words may never be spoken this season.

Elco 61, Lebanon 60

Elco (61)

Bossert 3 2-2 8, Buchmoyer 5 0-0 14, Beamer 3 3-4 10, Lawrence 11 2-3 29. Totals — 22 7-9 61.

Lebanon (60)

Baker 3 0-0 7, Escoto 5 0-0 10, Blouch 3 0-1 7, Lopez 2 0-0 4, Shaak 6 2-2 19, Kortright 6 0-3 13. Totals — 25 2-6 60.

Elco _ 7 _ 9 _ 18 _ 27 _ — _ 61

Leb _ 20 _ 10 _ 10 _ 20 _ — _ 60

3-point goals — E 10 (Lawrence 5, Buchmoyer 4, Beamer), L 8 (Shaak 5, Baker, Blouch, Kortright).