Talon Craycraft stood all alone in the corner, with the inbounds pass from teammate Tanner Davis flying toward him. There was 5.4 seconds remaining in the semifinal of the Class 2A Lapel Sectional. Wapahani had the ball after a Lapel turnover cost the Bulldogs their chance at the last shot. It was not Wright State-bound wing Grant Evans or 6-foot-7 forward Jacob Foster getting the ball for Wapahani, but all 5 feet, 9 inches of Craycraft, who hadn’t attempted a shot all night.
“He left me there,” Craycraft said of his defender. “Tanner gave it to me. He left me wide open. I shot it. It looked good, felt good.”
As the ball sailed through the air, Evans saw it on line and raised his hand to signify what was coming: the 57-54 victory that sent the No. 6 Raiders to the title game.
“I knew as soon as he let it go, it was going to be good,” Evans said. “You leave that kid open, and all year, JV and varsity, he stepped in, every wide-open 3 he’s had, he made.”
Craycraft’s basket closed a white-knuckle contest and a late back-and-forth sequence. Lapel (12-10) tied the game twice in the final two minutes, the last time on a Tanner Watkins pull-up jumper to make it 54-all.
Moments later, the teams traded three turnovers in rapid succession, and then the Bulldogs drained clock for the last shot. But after a timeout, Lapel’s Brady Cherry overthrew the inbound, giving the Raiders (20-3) the ball on Lapel’s baseline.
Lapel coach Jimmie Howell said his team packed the lane to prevent a lob to Foster (19 points, 10 rebounds) and it denied Evans, but that left Craycraft unguarded.
“We knew the kid in the corner could shoot it,” Howell said. “We just didn’t get out there quite quick enough”
Despite losing senior guard Brandon Williams to an ankle injury, the Raiders gained a sense of relief.
“It’s about time we won one of those,” Wapahani coach Matt Luce said. “We’ve had some very difficult losses at Lapel, and I think it shows how much our guys have grown over the last two years.”
Burris coach Greg Hitchens’ response after his team’s season ended at the Lapel sectional summed up the position the Owls (9-12) were in.
“I thought our kids played fantastic,” Hitchens said.
And that only made it close.
His team was down four points entering the fourth quarter and down five with a minute to go before losing a tight, ugly affair to defending sectional champ Frankton (18-5).
Burris senior Mack Rathbun poured in 15 points, but he could not match Frankton’s Aaron Korn (24), who hit his free throws down the stretch to pull away.