By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Freshman Justin Olson knocked down a 15-foot jumper from the left baseline as time expired to give the Kennett High boys' basketball team a thrilling 73-72 overtime victory over Pembroke at the Nest on Tuesday night.
"He's playing beyond his years," said Jack Loynd, Eagles' head coach. "Justin's a freshman who we call rookie, but he didn't look like it Tuesday. He can shoot. He played the better part of the last quarter and a half."
The win lifted the Eagles to 2-10 in Division II play, while the loss dropped the Spartans to 6-7 on the season.
"We really played well," Loynd said. "It was a great team effort. Pembroke is good club. They beat (8-4) Pelham (72-64 on Feb. 10). They have this kid, (Jake) Sherman, who you see in warmups and he doesn't look like anything special, but boy can he shoot. He had 24 (points), and we contested every shot. They have three legitimate scorers."
The Eagles and Spartans were deadlocked at 65 at the end of regulation time. In the extra session, the visitors went on a 5-0 run in the first 25 seconds, but KHS didn't get rattled.
"I think that's where we grew up," Loynd said. "Pembroke was playing a delay and we were forced to chase the ball, which we did, but we never got rattled and created some turnovers."
Sophomore Colby Livingston hit a clutch three-pointer, and senior Patrick Cullen, who had a huge game with 22 points, knocked down a pair of free throws in the extra session.
Down one with eight seconds to play, junior Ryan Meader was able to create an opening to get the ball inside to Cullen, who immediately kicked it out to Olson, who tickled the twine and sent the hometown flock into a frenzy with the game-winner.
Loynd praised the play of Meader, who was in his second game back following a concussion.
"Ryan was great off the bench," he said. "The intent was for him to give the starters a rest, but I couldn't take him off the floor. He took the ball to the basket. He played well."
Meader finished the night with nine points, while fellow Eagle, Foster Piotrow, added 17 in the win.
"I'm really proud of my team," Loynd said. "They've grown up since the Berlin game when they played from behind with composure. (Laughing) I don't know how much watching the Patriots (Super Bowl comeback) helped, but it didn't hurt."
The Eagles now find themselves a game out of the playoff picture.
"We've got six games over the next 15 days," Loynd said. "The tournament would be great for the the experience, but I'm not thinking along those lines right now. It would be good if we do make it. These guys just love to play and compete. They're a good practice team, and I think that translated into the game on Tuesday. I was really happy with how we played."
Kennett is scheduled to close out the week at Timberlane (8-5) on Friday.
- Category: High School