Prosser boys basketball coach Julian Murray has watched his team drop close games all season due to poor free throw shooting.
In Friday’s second round of the East Aurora Holiday Tournament, Murray finally saw his Falcons execute down the stretch and pull out a close game.
Aurora Central Catholic got back into the game with a late three-point spree, but Prosser hung on for a 79-71 win. The Falcons hit 11-of-14 free throws in the final minute after ACC cut the lead to three to pull out the win.
“Trust me, I’ll sleep a lot better tonight,” Murray said. “I knew we were going to break through at some point. During a timeout, I said, this is where it really counts, so let’s change this path.”
Prosser (7-6) took a 58-45 lead into the fourth quarter and seemed to be in control after ACC (1-8) got off to a slow start. The Chargers turned it over 17 times in the first half, which led to Prosser’s big lead.
“We lost that game in the first half,” ACC coach Nate Drye said. “I thought we played timid. We got killed on the offensive boards and we turned it over repeatedly. I thought a lot of it was on us. We just have to play better in that situation.”
But despite all of that, with the way ACC can shoot from three-point range, the Chargers are never out of a game until the final buzzer. Sean Harreld hit three three-pointers and Evan Schuetz and Nick Faltz each hit a three as well as the Chargers whittled the lead down to 66-62.
“He shot the ball well today,” Drye said of Harreld, who led all scorers with 25. “He did a nice job of getting us back into the game in the second half. It was nice of them to start playing zone there at the start of the second half because he got a lot of looks. When he gets into a groove, that’s a nice thing.”
With 1:09 left, freshman Mac Cowen also hit a three, which cut the lead to 74-71. But ACC would never score again and Prosser hit 5-of-6 from the line to ice it.
“When you trade threes for twos, that’s kind of tough, that’s what makes the free throws so crucial,” Murray said. “We were hoping they’d miss one (from three-point range). We played disciplined basketball after a while and they missed one.”
Andy Czerak flanked Harreld with 18 points for the Chargers. Schuetz added nine. Prosser had four players in double figures, led by 18 from sophomore Darnell Lathem. Deandre Johnson added 16, Tobias McGhee scored 14 and Adam Braxton posted 13 points.