With about 1:15 left in the ballgame, senior guard Jaidon Barnes was dribbling in the Scecina end of the court right in front of his visiting team's bench.
The Crusaders had a one-point lead, 43-42, and a Crusader steal on the Wildcat end led to Barnes having the ball.

Franklin County junior Lucas Stacy raced from the Wildcat end of the floor, caught up with Barnes and stole the ball off Barnes' dribble. Stacy headed back the other way. Several Crusaders tried to trap the ball in their end, and FC coach Eric Ebrens called a timeout.

“He is playing hard and getting better,” Ebrens said of Stacy.

It was the first of three FC timeouts in less than a minute.

“I do not really remember what I said,” Ebrens said. “I just tried to stay positive. I knew I wanted to get the ball to our best offensive player to either getfouled or score, and the kids did a great job of executing that.”

Eventually, the game's leading scorer, FC sophomore Chad Cox, was fouled with 30 seconds left in the game. Before Cox shot the first of a one-and-one situation from the charity stripe, Scecina coach Scott Miller called his own timeout.

After the timeout, Cox missed the free throw and 6-2 junior center Myles Dais, a wide, muscular body in the paint, came down with the rebound. Miller called another timeout.

Eventually, with just 16 seconds remaining, junior forward Jomo Cole was faced with his own one-and-bonus.

As Cox did, Cole also missed the front end of the one-and-one. In the ensuing melee for the ball, Dais fouled Cox going for the rebound. There were but 14.2 seconds remaining

Again, Cox was faced with a one-and-one situation. Up to that point in the game, the Wildcats had failed miserably at the foul line, going 5-for-10.

“That is just (the players) not knowing how to win yet,” Ebrens said. “The kids had not been in that situation, and it showed. It is a learning experience.”
Cox's first attempt seemed to hit every cardinal point of the rim before falling through the net and tying the game, 43-43. He swished his second free throw to put the Wildcats in the lead, 44-43.

The Crusaders raced up the floor with senior guard Max White, who already had scored one of the two Crusaders three-pointers in the game, letting fly with a trey attempt from the right wing. His shot bounced off the far side of the rim and went long on the left side. FC freshman guard Brant Ertel and a Crusader raced for the ball with the ball bouncing off the Crusader and going out of bounds right in front of the FC Bleacher Bums. There were but 4.8 ticks left in regulation.

“We did a nice job on No. 11 (White),” Ebrens said. “He was, by far, their best outside shooter. He only hit one three.”
Scecina called another timeout to set up its full-court defense.

With the Crusaders going full-court man, the Wildcats successfully inbounded the ball with Stacy being fouled with 3.1 seconds remaining. FC had been beset with allowing the Crusaders to rebound the Crusaders' missed free throws multiple times in the game. However, when Stacy missed the front end of the one-and-one, FC guard Drew Dixon was able to repay that favor and came down with his own offensive board. He was immediately fouled with but 0.9 seconds remaining.

“Drew has been great this year,” Ebrens said. “He is willing to do little things that do not necessarily show up on a stat sheet. He is our only senior and has started to take a leadership role.”

By now the Wildcats were in the double bonus. Dixon missed his first attempt but hit the second, making the score 45-43, which was the final score.
The Crusaders attempted to heave the ball the entire length of the floor on the ensuing out-of-bounds play, but the throw went long and out of bounds on the other end of the floor without being touched by anyone on either team. Thus, the referees brought the ball back to its point of origin, and FC successfully inbounded under its own basket ending the game with a hard-fought 45-43 victory.

It was an exciting and hard-fought game from the opening tipoff. FC was able to grab a couple of five-point advantages but was never able to pull away.
Scecina was in the same boat as the Crusaders also held one five-point lead in the first quarter, 13-8, but was not able to expand it any farther.

“All of Scecina's games have been low scoring and relatively close,” Ebrens said. “They do a great job of getting in gaps on defense.”

In that instance, Cox hit a floater from the left baseline with just one second remaining in the initial quarter to reduce the lead to three, 13-10.

FC was led in scoring by Cox. He almost got his season average with 16 points (16.4). Brant Ertel added 14 points while sophomore guard Bridger Bolos contributed nine points. Stacy led the Wildcats in rebounds with eight. Cox had six and Dixon ended the game with five.

The Crusaders were led in scoring by Barnes with a dozen points. Senior Marquis Edwards had 10 points.

FC seems to be getting better with every game the Wildcats play.

“We're just trying to get better each week and, hopefully, more wins will come,” Ebrens said.

Scecina dropped to 5-4 on the season and played at Monrovia Friday, Jan. 3. FC went to 3-6 on the season. The Wildcats played host to Oldenburg on Friday night, Jan. 3.

In the junior varsity contest, the Wildcats made it a sweep, winning 29-25.

Scecina led all the way until the final quarter when the Wildcats outscored the Crusaders 10-4. Sophomore guard Nathan Stringer led the Wildcats in scoring with nine points. Fellow sophomore Brayden Back had eight points.

Another sophomore, Austin Hill, grabbed 11 boards to lead the Wildcats. Back was next with five rebounds.

FC's junior varsity is now 3-6 on the season.