CARTHAGE — There's an old saying that fits the fifth place game in the 72nd annual Carthage Invitational just like a glove.
That old saying would be "It's not how you start, it's how you finish."
Early in the third quarter Saturday, the Seneca Indians built a 28-15 lead on the host Carthage Tigers. Seneca used a 13-0 run in the second quarter to first push its lead into double-digits.
However, Carthage finished strong with a 17-2 run to gain a 32-30 lead, a 33-7 stretch to build its largest lead at 48-35 with 2 minutes, 29 seconds remaining, and finally the Tigers outscored Seneca 37-13 after that 28-15 deficit to earn a 52-41 victory for fifth.
Tucker Downing led all scorers with 11 points and the Tigers had five more players generate at least seven points: Taris Jackson and Tyler Mueller each had eight and Patrick Carlton, Morgan Frisinger, and Joel Pugh each had seven. Pugh, a 5-foot-8 freshman guard, hit a pair of 3-point shots during the huge momentum swing.
Gavin Clouse led Seneca with 10 points and Layne Henning hit for nine, Payton Armstrong seven, Brennan Yust six, Preston Armstrong five, Isaiah Grotjohn two, and Jordan Lowry two.
Things looked up for Seneca, not only with that 28-15 lead but the Indians put Carthage 6-foot-7 junior post Alex Martini in serious foul trouble. Martini picked up his fourth personal foul only 1:41 after halftime. (Martini finished with four points.)
Of course, one would think Seneca could take great advantage on Carthage inside with the Tigers' big man on the bench.
No, instead, Seneca finished the third quarter with just one more basket from Yust. Otherwise, it was all Carthage the rest of the third and Downing's basket early in the fourth gave Carthage the lead back for good at 32-30.
Seneca made only three shots from the field after that 13-point lead.
Seneca, 1-2 overall, returns to action Thursday through Saturday when the Indians host their annual early December tournament.