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Archive for Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Hightree’s steely nerves help Baldwin hold on

January 18, 2006

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— James Hightree should have worn a Red Cross patch on his shoulder.

Hightree stopped the bleeding as Baldwin survived Kansas City Christian, 60-56, in a first-round game of the Baldwin Invitational boys basketball tournament Tuesday night.

Hightree, a 6-foot-5 senior, nailed four free throws - all in bonus situations - in the last 16 seconds to prevent the once-beaten Bulldogs from blowing a 15-point lead.

"I'm at a loss for words," Hightree said about his late charities. "I was definitely praying, though."

Late in the third quarter, it appeared the Panthers had no prayer. Thanks mainly to Drew Berg's three-point shooting, the host Bulldogs bolted to a 48-33 cushion with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Baldwin still led by a dozen when the quarter ended, but the Panthers forced five turnovers over the next four minutes to fuel a 14-0 run that gave them a 52-50 lead with 2:15 remaining.

If Baldwin's players were in shock, it didn't show.

"These guys have been like that, up and down," Baldwin coach Heath Cooper said, "but this team can stop a run because we have good senior leadership."

Senior Jeremy Wright stopped the K.C. Christian onslaught with a three-point goal - his only trey of the night - with 2:01 left to give the 'Dogs a 53-52 lead. Baldwin never surrendered it again, thanks to Hightree's clutch late free throws.

Hightree made 7-of-8 charities and finished with a team-high 23 points. Berg scored 17 off the bench, including a trio of three-pointers.

The Bulldogs will meet Ottawa at 7 p.m. Friday in the semifinals. Baldwin handed the Cyclones their only loss, an 82-79 double overtime win about two weeks ago.

Ottawa 87, Anderson County 48

Just three days after flattening Anderson County, 87-54, in a regular season game, the Cyclones buried the Bulldogs by virtually the same score.

"We scored the same number of points," Ottawa coach David Grover said, "but the two games were completely different."

In the first meeting, Ottawa dominated inside, but Tuesday night the Cyclones drilled a dozen three-point goals, twice as many as they had produced in a game this season.

Guard Matt Leecy counted four treys while Chase Moore, Addison Miller, Luke Bones and Victory Ojeleye added two apiece.

Ojeleye and Leecy led the Cyclones with 16 points apiece. Philip Sylvester had 14 while Miller and Bones counted 13 apiece.

Now the Cyclones will have another crack at Baldwin.

"We didn't have Ojeleye in that first game," Grover said, "but they didn't have Hightree, so it's a wash."

Ojeleye missed a month with an ankle injury. Hightree missed the first Ottawa game with the flu.

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