On a disastrous shooting night, Darnell Butler made the shot when it counted.
In the corner, Butler found himself open and calmly swished his only 3-pointer of the night with 2.7 seconds left, keeping McCutcheon’s hope of a J&C Hoops Classic three-peat alive with a 43-40 victory over tournament host Lafayette Jeff in Crawley Center Friday.
Butler’s trey came after the Mavericks forced a Lafayette Jeff turnover with 2:16 to go, then held for the final shot.
When the moment was right, the Mavericks’ ball movement allowed the defense to lose Butler, who missed his first four 3-point attempts.
“It felt so good. We were (1-for-17) from 3 and then finally we hit the one that counted,” said Butler, who had 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Mavericks advance to the championship against West Lafayette, a team they beat 64-51 on Thanksgiving Eve in the season opener.
“I think they know they are a lot better than the way they played the first time we went against them,” McCutcheon coach Rick Peckinpaugh said of the rematch. “The way they played (in beating CC Friday) is the way they are capable of playing, making 3s is what they are capable of doing. Against us they only made five. They are capable of making 15.”
Following Friday’s win, Peckinpaugh was so disgusted with the stat sheet, mainly a 2-for-18 night from 3 and 13 turnovers, that he asked to burn it.
But with possession of the ball, the patient Mavericks finally ran a play with 12 seconds left.
Dionte Nunn dribbled to his left, then passed to Tre’Shon Heard, who was double teamed at the top of the key. Heard threw the ball inside to Charles Phinisee, who kicked it back to Nunn on the wing and Nunn quickly flipped it to an open Butler in the corner for the winner.
“I don’t know what the expectations are for this team, but we’re not going to go out and win by 30. We’re going to have games like that,” Peckinpaugh said. “We have to learn to win close games. This was a great opportunity for us to experience that.”
David Hanyard’s desperation heave at the buzzer for Jeff banked off the glass and smacked off the rim.
Hanyard’s shot almost sent the Bronchos to overtime for the second time in the tournament. But so could have numerous attempts that found their way halfway down before popping out.
Jeff settled for 38.5 percent shooting and its 5-for-12 night at the free throw line proved costly as well.
“We got the shots we wanted and I am not sure how many were in and out in the second half,” Jeff coach Scott Radeker said. “We missed seven free throws that translates to nine points because there were two one-and-ones in there, so we did leave a lot of points on the floor, but I am proud of the effort. Our kids for the most part stuck to the game plan.”
McCutcheon won in ugly fashion despite missing starter Mark Neill, who came down with an illness early in the morning.
In his absence and with starter Spencer Caldwell also having an off night, Marshall Bares and Parker Bares played meaningful minutes and Haden Deaton capitalized on increased playing time by matching Butler with a game-high 13 points. Phinisee started in Neill’s place and was the only Maverick with two assists.
Deaton and Butler also combined for 13 rebounds.
“Rebounding and hustling, that is what is going to keep me in the game,” said Deaton, a sophomore. “When I found out Mark wasn’t going to play, I knew me and Charles had to step up. When you lose a senior leader like that, it is always hard.”
Eddie Collins and Darian Collins each scored nine for the Bronchos (1-1). The Bronchos face Central Catholic in the third-place game at 6 p.m.
“It was tough playing them here because they’re at home and they had their crowd going and everyone was hyped,” Butler said.