Braden Suttle was simply not going to lose on his Senior Night.
With just under five seconds left Friday night, Suttle was in the right spot, found an open shot and his layup gave Centerville a two-point advantage.
The two points were Suttle’s finishing touches on a 24-point performance, including 13 in the fourth quarter, which lifted the Bulldogs to a 58-56 victory over Lincoln.
“We were behind pretty much the whole ballgame until the end and we’d make a comeback and they’d hit a big shot, we’d make a comeback and they’d hit another big shot, but we stayed in it and that was a good thing,” Suttle said.
That about summed up the start of the fourth quarter, when Lincoln matched its biggest lead, 52-44, with 3:04 left.
Suttle had a key steal with 5:20 left that he turned into a dunk and a three-point play and a one-point game, 39-38, but Lincoln’s Tyler Klein quieted the crowd with a layup on the other side of the court, followed by a Ben Singer 3-pointer that made it 44-38.
Suttle again found the net with a fade-away three-point play, but Singer again struck with a 3 to make it 50-44.
Trevor Miller hit a 3 for Centerville, before one final Singer trey and a 2 from Walker Shepherd, but the Bulldogs followed with a 7-0 run to get within one.
With 45 seconds left another Centerville senior, Chad Phenis, gave the Bulldogs their first lead since the second quarter, and after the Eagles made one of two free throws to tie it, Suttle’s shot gave Centerville the win.
“I think we showed a lot of heart in the fourth quarter,” Centerville coach Ryan Chiddister said. “When we were down eight points, it didn’t look good, but I think our defense gave us a spark and that’s what we continue to talk about is that defense dictates the game.
“At that point, they got excited, they made a play here and there and their excitement level increased, which therefore their defensive intensity became better.”
The excitement level did not stop, as Lincoln had a couple of final chances after Centerville took the lead.
Shepherd tossed the ball all the way across the court with 3.8 seconds on the clock, and Klein stood under the basket, but could not get a handle on the ball as it went out of bounds.
One more try with 1 second left went across the court into the Centerville student section.
“I don’t fault any of our kids, because our kids are trying as hard as they can to make plays,” Lincoln coach Rodney Klein said. “Sometimes when you try hard to make plays, some things don’t go your way and a couple things don’t go our way, but with that said, we’ll be back to battle on Wednesday and that’s what we’re trying.”
Lincoln led 14-10 after a turnover-free first quarter, but had six in the second quarter, allowing the Bulldogs to take their first lead.
Lincoln eventually pulled away to a 29-25 halftime lead and led 39-33 after three, but was hurt by foul trouble and an injured Ian Bloom in the fourth quarter. Tyler Weaver finished with 11 points for the Bulldogs, while Phenis had nine and a team-high seven rebounds.
Tyler Klein led the Golden Eagles with 22 points and five rebounds, while Singer had 16 points.
“I think that (foul trouble) contributed a little bit to what happened. When you take a couple key components out of our lineup in foul trouble, that’s going to cause some problems, but give Centerville some credit,” coach Klein said. “Especially Braden Suttle — he stepped up in the fourth quarter and we told the kids at timeout, ‘He’s going to shoot. Everything’s going to go through him,’ and he made some big plays. The dunk was huge, two three-point plays on the fade-aways. He’s a nice player and he played hard.”
The two teams square off again Wednesday in the opening round of Class 2A Sectional 41 at Hagerstown.
“I’m proud of the way we came back tonight,” Chiddister concluded. “Lincoln’s a very good basketball team, it’s a team we’re going to face again here in a few days, and it’s going to be a battle. They’re extremely well-coached.”