MT. PLEASANT - It has become the standard for Mt. Pleasant and Washington athletics to take games down to the final seconds to decide a winner, and it was no different Friday. In a Southeast Conference boys basketball battle, the Panthers survived the Demons 58-57 after a last-second layup and tip-in both rolled just off the rim for Washington’s Trashaun Willis at the buzzer.
The game was up and down early on with the two teams combining for 31 points in the first quarter. Mt. Pleasant led 17-14 after eight minutes, led by Jaxon Hoyle and Sam Beatty, who had six early points each.
Beatty continued his strong play inside into the second quarter. The Panther senior scored another six points and led Mt. Pleasant to a 31-24 advantage at halftime. Washington had a balanced scoring attack in the first half, led by Luke Turner’s six points.
A three-headed Demon attack brought Washington within two posessions in the third quarter. Cade Hennigan put up eight points in the period, Willis had seven and Turner added six to account for all 21 third-quarter points. Beatty, however, helped keep Mt. Pleasant on top with seven points in the third and the Panthers led 48-44 to start the fourth.
Washington finally tied the game up with just 2 minutes, 3 seconds on the clock when Willis sprang free at the top of the key. He knocked down a 3-pointer to knot the game up at 56-56.
The game stayed tied until Jaxon Hoyle dove in with a 2-point shot with 50 seconds showing on the clock. Ethan Hunt was fouled 18 seconds later and hit one of two free throws, but the Panthers still led 58-57.
Mt. Pleasant had a couple of chances to stretch their lead at the free throw line. Tucker Johnston missed the front end of a one-and-one with 23.7 seconds left, but Beatty pulled down the offensive board. Keegan Kohorst stepped to the line for a one-and-one of his own, but missed his front end as well, giving the Demons a chance to win it.
Washington called timeout with 17 seconds left and set up for a last-second attempt. Willis found some room inside but missed a layup in the closing seconds. He tipped up his own rebound, but the potential buzzer-beater narrowly rolled off the rim, allowing the Panthers to hang on.
After the game, Mt. Pleasant coach Caleb Akey joked about the final defensive possession, saying it didn’t exactly play out like he planned in the huddle.
“We’re in the timeout and I say, we have two fouls to give, let’s foul,” Akey said. “I’m pretty sure every kid on Washington touched it twice and we didn’t foul them.”
Beatty finished the game with 19 points to lead Mt. Pleasant. Johnson had 15, and Hoyle scored 11 to give the Panthers three double-digit scorers. Rhett Zeglen had nine points on the night, and Clayton Lowery scored four.
Willis and Hennigan co-led Washington with 14 points apiece. Turner had 12. Trevor Quigley scored eight, and both Ethan Hunt and Brock Sobaski ended the night with four.
“I’m very proud of how we kept battling,” Demon head coach Collin Stark said after the game. “We have a goal for this team of getting in gear before the postseason. That’s where the games really matter. The main thing we’re going to learn from it is we put ourselves in position to win, and it just didn’t quite go our way.”
Mt. Pleasant’s win moved them into second place in the final Southeast Conference standings, at 4-4. Fairfield won the SEC with an 8-0 record. Washington and Ft. Madison tied for third, at 3-5, and Keokuk brought up the rear with a 2-6 mark.
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Louisa-Muscatine 52, Columbus 45
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Iowa Mennonite 65, HLV 45
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Durant 61, Mid-Prairie 58
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WACO 67, Central Lee 42
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