The season ended for the Rising Sun Shiners on Tuesday, February 26th but not before putting a scare into the defending Class A state champion Morristown Yellow Jackets, coming up short 57-56 in Sectional 60 opener at Southwestern (Shelby) High School.
While not in for moral victories, first year coach Rick Scholl said, “I’m proud of them. We had a chance to win. You want to win. To look up and see the ball through the net and sea of blue jumping up but that didn’t happen. Two inches closer and we’d be celebrating instead of them.
“I told them they had to play at a high level to win the toughest sectional in southern Indiana and they mostly played at a high level the whole game.”
Rising Sun and Morristown went head to head for the second time in a week. A week ago, Rising Sun had a halftime lead on the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets. The offense stalled and scored five points in each of the third and fourth quarters.
In the rematch, the Shiners got off to a slow start but junior forward T.J. Manifold put them back in the game with 10 of his career high 16 points and five rebounds.
Senior Noah Pflum scored the first basket of the game before Morristown’s all-star candidate Logan Laster led the Yellow Jackets on a 9-0 run.
Pflum and classmate Wes Rider got the ball in low to Manifold. Rising Sun trailed 15-8 after one quarter.
Manifold had six of the Shiners’ next 10 points in the second quarter to pull RS to within two. He added an assist to Rider then senior Nick Koons tied the game on a Shiner breakaway. Rider buried a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to put the Shiners up 25-22 at the half.
Rider and Manifold had career night combing for 34 points. Rider had 18 along with four assists and three rebounds. Manifold scored a career high 16 points to go with five rebounds and an assist.
“T.J. played like Superman tonight,” added Scholl. “That was good to see that. He was the one that inspired us and brought us back. Our guards did a good job of getting it into the post.”
Rising Sun built a seven point lead (36-29) after a Jake Bovard 3-ponter and Rider rebound turned into a fast break basket.
Sophomore Landon Cole took another charge and RS was up seven despite floor leader Pflum on the bench with his phantom third foul which should have been on Rider at the 4:10 mark.
Scholl noted , “when we were up seven we rushed a shot. We don’t have to score. You take what defense gives you and burn the clock.”
Laster (who scored a triple double in Morristown’s state championship game a year ago) was scoreless in the second quarter but took control in the third quarter.
The Shiners took a 41-38 lead into the final eight minutes with Manifold and Rider each scoring off of assists by senior Jake Bovard.
Laster tied the game on a leaning back and falling down 3-pointer. Kyle Grim’s steal and coast to coast for the lead with 6:36 left. Another Grim drive gave Morristown a 45-42 advantage.
Cole added a pair of free throws. Rising Sun trailed by one when Koons came up with a steal and Scholl called timeout to get Pflum back in the game with 3:14 remaining.
Leading scorer Koons (14.5 ppg) banked in his eighth point of the night and gave Rising Sun the lead.
Free throws proved to be the key to the contest. Logan Theobald hit a pair of his four fourth quarter free throws to give Morristown the lead but Cole answered with a drive to the hoop. Matty Livezey scored his lone goal of the game for a Morristown lead.
Rider gave RS the 54-53 advantage but two more Theobald free throws continued the see saw ending with six ties and 11 lead changes.
“I think he (Theobald) got bailed out (by officials) on those calls,” said Scholl and assistant coach Tim Phelps.
Pflum put in a reverse layup off a Rider pass for a 56-55 lead with 21.3 left.
“You got to stop him,” Scholl said of Laster. “You have to give them credit.”
Laster drove in for the winning basket but missed the and one free throw with 11 seconds left.
Scholl called timeout with 7.1 seconds remaining, eerily similar to the close of its loss at Hauser.
Rider got a wide open look from the wing that rebounded long. Koons got off an off balance 3-pointer at the buzzer .
“We wanted to get penetration at the rim,” he noted. “We were looking for Nick, our best 3-point shooter. Wes is our second best 3-point shooter.
Noah kicked it out and Wes had a good look.”
Scholl had told officials he wanted a timeout if we get the rebound but that didn’t happen.
“You don’t realize how much seven seconds is,” admitted Scholl, who finished 10-13 in his first season.
Koons finished his senior year with eight points but the Ohio River Valley Conference top free throw shooter (90 percent) never made it to the free throw line. Pflum finished his career with six points, two assists and a rebound. Bovard had one 3-pointer in his final contest after having a team high 16 in the earlier meeting. He had five rebounds and four assists.
Cole finished with five points including half the Shier free throws (3-4 of the 6-8 in the game).
Rising Sun was 22-for-34 from two point range while 2-for-8 from behind the arc.
Morristown was 17-for-29, with 4-for-11from 3-point range and 11-for-13 at the line
The Shiners had eight turnovers to seven for Morristown. The Yellow Jackets had an 18-16 rebounding advantage
Morristown was led by Laster with a game high 26 points with Kyle Crim added 13.
“It’s a game of inches and runs,” summarized Scholl. “You can if the game to death but in the end we had a chance to win. Not many people thought we had a chance but our fans.
Rising Sun graduates five seniors but has a good group of eighth graders coming in.
— Tim Hillman