Van Stymies Late Canton Rally to Win, 61-59
CANTON -- After starting the final quarter down double digits, Canton called timeout with a chance to send the game into overtime.
But before the Eagles would get to use it, Van snatched it away.
Canton never got a shot attempt off, as the Vandals fouled instantly on the inbound. Colton Haley made the first of a 1-in-1 before intentionally missing the second, but the rebound went to Van and time ran out.
The late-game strategy earned the Vandals a 61-59 road victory against the Eagles on Tuesday evening.
“We work a lot on free throw line rebounding and I thought we had a chance to make them have to miss a free throw and we’d get a rebound and send it to the other end of the floor with no time left," coach Ben Kinnison said.
Van (12-8, 2-0 District 14-4A) implemented its lead management strategy well in the final two minutes, with longer possessions that eventually forced the Eagles to foul. But with time on the Vandals' side, the momentum kept shifting to Canton.
The Eagles entered the fourth quarter down 50-40, but grew hot from 3-point range to force their way back into the game. Four different players hit 3-pointers in the quarter, getting to work quickly. By the 5:19 mark, Travis Lively hit a triple to force a Van timeout and make the score 52-48.
“Those guys can shoot it," Kinnison said "They’ve got a million kids over there that can dribble, pass shoot. They’re a scary group to play. They got looks for their shooters and made big shots to make it the game that it was.”
McGwire Martin hit a 3 with a little more than three minutes remaining to make it a one-possession game for the first time in the quarter. Martin finished with 18 points to lead the Eagles (17-10, 0-2).
But Van's offense responded well, and the Eagles never took the lead as the teams traded baskets and time dwindled. PJ Brooks, who led Van all evening, hit a 3-pointer in response to Martin's to bring the Vandal lead back to 6 that stopped the Canton run from getting out of hand.
Brooks got off to a hot start, scoring 13 points in the first quarter. He finished with 27 points, including five 3-pointers in the victory.
"He’s a first-year varsity guy and he’s not necessarily battle-tested, but he’s played 17 or 18 games now," Kinnison said. "He’s always been able to score it. He just felt comfortable tonight. I was proud of him not letting the moment or atmosphere be too big for him. He had a heck of a night. Kind of his coming out party as a varsity player.”
Lively finished with seven assists for Canton while Hunter Hutchins had eight points and eight rebounds for the Vandals.
Van will be back at home to face Wills Point at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Canton will aim for its first district victory against Athens at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Athens.