By PAUL HINES
The Cardinals rallied from a deficit late in the fourth quarter and had a chance to push Saturday’s game against Flora into overtime.
“It was a lot of back and forth tonight where they went on a run and then we’d respond,” Woodlawn coach Shane Witzel said. “To be able to answer back was a positive thing.”
Logan Isaac drew a foul on Flora and stepped to the line in the closing seconds with Woodlawn down two points. He hit his first attempt but missed the second. After a brief battle for the rebound, Flora’s Blake Shehorn grabbed the ball and ran out the clock. Flora won the game 54-53.
“It never comes down to one free throw,” Witzel said. “There’s no one that feels worse in that locker room than Logan Isaac, but it never comes down to one missed free throw.”
The game was close throughout, but with the game tied at 44 midway through the fourth Flora went on an 8-0 run. Woodlawn’s Kris Harlow broke a four-minute scoreless stretch to get the Cardinals back within six. Down eight again with two minutes left, Woodlawn put together a run of its own. Gabe Owens and Isaac hit four straight free throws to cut the deficit in half. Matt Kennedy brought the Cardinals to within 54-52 with a putback after Ty Coleman stole the ball and missed a layup.
After a Flora miss, Owens tried to put the Cardinals up with a 3-pointer, but his shot was off target. Owens led all scorers with 20 points. Woodlawn fouled Flora’s Brenden Thomas. The Wolves’ senior stepped to the free throw line with his team up 54-52 and 30 seconds left in the game. Thomas missed the front end of the one-and-one. It was his third straight miss at the line in the final quarter. That set the stage for the final possession.
Owens paced the Woodlawn offense in the opening half. He finished the first half with 14 points and missed just two shots. Despite the early offense from Owens, Flora took a 34-30 lead into the half.
Woodlawn exited halftime with a 9-0 run to take the lead. Owens ended the scoring run with a 3-pointer to put the Cardinals up 39-34.
Flora used a balanced inside-outside combination against Woodlawn. Bryce Pearce scored 13 points from his guard position while post player Blake Shehorn led the Wolves with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
“(Shehorn) was getting the ball pretty deep, and we were getting some help down to him,” Witzel said. “But he made some nice, quick post moves, and when you get the ball that deep it’s difficult to get in there. Logan and Jake both fought to keep him from getting in a comfortable position.”
Woodlawn is 22-3 this season.
“Losses are always pretty bitter, and we haven’t felt this in quite some time,” Witzel said. “We’ll take it pretty hard, but you have to move on next week and we’ve still got a lot to play for.”