A furious last-minute rally by the Beech Grove Hornets fell just short Wednesday night as the Cardinal Ritter Raiders came out on top 65-63 in an Indiana Crossroads Conference game on the Matt English Court at “The Hive.”
Trailing 57-44 with 1:43 left to play in the fourth quarter, Beech Grove (9-7, 4-2 in the ICC) began its comeback. Josh Copenhaver scored off a feed from John Parker to make the score 57-46 with 1:36 remaining. Then Gavin Hess stole the ball and passed it to Copenhaver, who dished it off to Jajuan Allison for a three-pointer with 1:26 to go to cut the Hornet deficit at eight, 57-49. After Marlon Anderson Jr. made one of two free throws to extend Cardinal Ritter’s lead to 58-49, Jordan Brickley sank a three-pointer with 1:14 left to draw Beech Grove to within 58-52.
Following made free throws by Dan Bayler (two) and Nate Soltis (one) to pad the Raiders’ advantage to 61-52, Brickley made another trey with 41.6 seconds left to make the score 61-55. After two more made free throws by Bayler, Hess rebounded a miss from Brickley and laid the ball through the basket with 32 seconds remaining to get the Hornets to within 63-57. Then John Parker stole the ball off a Joey Gruber pass and nailed a tough three-point shot to pull Beech Grove to within three at 63-60 with 17.8 ticks on the clock.
After one more made free throw by Damon Ogletree to nudge Cardinal Ritter up by four (64-60), Hess rebounded Ogletree’s missed free throw and found Parker, who was fouled in the act of shooting yet another three-pointer. Parker connected on all three foul shots to get the Hornets even closer, trailing just 64-63 with 8.1 seconds to go. Marlon Anderson Jr. made one more free throw with 7.5 seconds to play to up the Raider lead to 65-63.
The Hornets were in position to either tie or win the game in regulation time. Brickley got the inbounds pass from Copenhaver and dished it off to Parker, who then fired from the left wing with 2.3 seconds remaining. The shot missed, but Allison rebounded the miss and got off another shot just ahead of the final buzzer. It misfired, and Cardinal Ritter barely escaped with the victory, its first against Beech Grove since February 10, 2011, when the Raiders defeated the Hornets 75-59 at “The Hive.”
Ogletree led the Raiders (10-8, 5-1 in the ICC) with 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. Anderson had 15 points and four assists; Soltis 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, four steals and five blocked shots; and Bayler 10 points and seven assists.
Beech Grove, which saw its conference title hopes go up in smoke, was led by Hess’ 16 points and 10 rebounds. Parker finished with 12 points, five rebounds and five assists while Allison scored 12, pulled down six rebounds and blocked two shots.
The Hornets will travel to Rushville Saturday afternoon for a 1:30 contest.