SENECA — Basketball is a game of runs and the Lamar Tigers made one more run than the Seneca Indians during their 51-42 victory in the Class 3, District 12 championship game Saturday night.
At 5 minutes, 25 seconds of the first quarter, Seneca junior point guard Preston Armstrong put the Indians up 7-4.
Lamar scored the final nine points of the first quarter and then by early in the third quarter, Lamar had built a 30-10 lead after a dominating 26-3 stretch.
Seneca rallied back with a 22-3 stretch of its own to make it a 33-32 early in the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately, for the Indians, Lamar hit Seneca with a 11-2 run for a 46-34 score late and the last two scores during that stretch were especially backbreakers.
Jonny Jeffries, who had missed a layup the previous Lamar possession, dialed up a 3-point shot for a 10-point lead and then Truman Kaderly’s fourth slam dunk of the contest put an exclamation on the decisive 11-2 run.
“That first half, of course getting down 15 at half,” Seneca head coach Will King said. “If you score 10 points in a half, you’re going to have trouble winning. We had trouble getting the ball to go in the hole. We’ve had some nights like that. Maybe we used up our shots last night. We hit some big shots last night, but it didn’t fall early (tonight).
“We gave up some putbacks by them, but we made a little switch defensively third quarter and thought we could make a run. We’ve had some good third quarters this year. After the first few buckets to get down 20, we did make a run and thought we had some good momentum. The place was going crazy and then we went through a cold spell again. If the ball doesn’t go in the hole, it’s hard to win.”
Kaderly led Lamar with 14 points, Jeffries added 13, Landon Hardman went for eight, and J.D. Bishop and Case Tucker each had six, with Tucker opening Lamar’s scoring in both halves.
“Lamar’s got such great athletes,” King said. “The length, the quickness and definitely, you throw those things in there, it’s tough. We got beat by a great team. I’m happy for them.”
Preston Armstrong led Seneca with 13 points and Gavin Clouse had 10, Brennen Yust nine, Layne Henning seven, and Isaiah Grotjohn three a night after he made the biggest shot of his young life, a 3-point shot for the semifinal win against top seed Mount Vernon.
Seneca finished 18-10 on the season.
“We’ve had a great season,” King said. “We didn’t dwell on the loss tonight. Great season. I think if you would have asked anybody in the area if Seneca’s going to win 18 games this year, they would have said no way. I’m proud of what they accomplished this year, 18 wins, battled all year, played in a district championship, guys stepping in roles.”
Coach King’s thoughts drifted back to one of this year’s seniors.
“Gavin Clouse is the ultimate leader,” King said. “If we could have seniors like that every year … what an amazing testimony to our program! We’ll miss him.”
The Seneca boys were seeking their first district title since 2013.