PUMPKIN CENTER â€” Lincolnton senior Jonathan Sherrill stepped to the free-throw line with eight seconds left in the second period of overtime in the Southern Piedmont Conference tournament championship game between Lincolnton and the Highland Tech Rams at North Lincoln on Friday.
Sherrill, who was 3-10 from the free-throw line through the first five periods of the game, sunk his first shot to give the Wolves a 64-63 lead. His second shot bounced off of the rim, but it was enough to give Lincolnton its second conference tournament championship in as many years.
â€œItâ€™s no secret that Sherrill has struggled from the line but Iâ€™m glad for him, and he hit the big one down at the end,â€ Lincolnton head coach Bob Cowie said. â€œHe works very hard, so it was good to see him get one. He was due to get one, heâ€™s missed some in big games, so that was good.â€
The game nearly mirrored the last time the teams met, on Jan. 31. The Rams defeated the Wolves 60-56 in that contest.
â€œIâ€™m not sure what I expected, but that was a great high school basketball game between two very good teams,â€ Cowie said. â€œWe were both giving it everything and laying it all on the line and we were fortunate to get a bounce here or there at the end.â€
Junior point guard Jevon Patton carried the torch for the Rams on offense, and finished with 37 points, including five 3-pointers.
â€œWe were worried about Patton,â€ Cowie said. â€œHeâ€™s just a great high school basketball player. We threw everything we had at him and there were times when we just couldnâ€™t stop him, but we were able to stop him on the last possession. Our goal was to try to make him work for his points, which I think we did.â€
Patton got the ball back after Sherrillâ€™s missed free throw in the second overtime period, but Lincolntonâ€™s Michael Cunningham deflected Pattonâ€™s shot and the Wolves pulled down a rebound for the win.
Lincolnton had a 10-4 lead after three minutes of the first quarter that was quickly slashed by Highland Techâ€™s Jevon Patton and Kameron Harper. Lincolnton went into the halftime break with a three-point lead, up 29-26.
The Highland Tech offense, which appeared uninspired through the first two quarters, was revitalized after halftime. The Rams tried to play an inside game in the first quarter without much success, going 5-11 from 2-point range. They then attempted to capitalize on their shooting ability in the second quarter, and were tallying 35 percent from long range before Fridayâ€™s game. They made only a quarter of their 3-point shots in the second quarter. The Rams were 4-10 from 3-point range in the third quarter and shot 6-7 from inside in the fourth quarter.
Carter was fouled on a 3-point shot with six seconds left in the fourth quarter while the Wolves were down 56-53. He hit all three free throws, after going 1-2 through the rest of the game, to send Lincolnton to overtime.
The Rams took a 58-56 lead with one minute left in the first overtime period, but Cunningham hit a layup on an assist from Sherrill with seven seconds left to get the Wolves into the second overtime period.
Carter opened the second overtime period with a 3-pointer, and three minutes later Highland Techâ€™s Josh Neely fouled Sherrill for the win.
Lincolnton senior Lorenzo Carter, who averaged 13.6 points per game headed into Fridayâ€™s game, led the Wolves in scoring with 23 points, and hit his 1,000th career point with a 3-pointer with 5:45 left in the second quarter. Carter was 5-7 from 2-point range, 3-9 from 3-point range and made four of his five free throw attempts. Senior Jalen Littlejohn finished second for the Wolves with 21 points, and was 6-6 from the free-throw line. Sherrill finished with 16 points and had a double-double with 12 rebounds.
A positive for the Wolves, who had difficulty making free throws throughout the season, was their performance from the line on Friday. Lincolnton made 14 of 25 attempts, while sending the Rams to the line only nine times.