It was a game that would have been better served being the championship game of the boys’ 2nd Region All A Classic on Saturday night. Nick Whalin’s layup with 2.7 seconds to go in the game turned out to be the winning basket as the Lyon County Lyons upended the University Heights Academy Blazers 79-77 in a heart-stopping quarterfinal round game of the 2nd Region All A tournament. K.J. Crump’s desperation 60-footer hit the front of the rim as time expired as Lyon County held on for the win.
With the win, Lyon County ended UHA’s eight year run as the 2nd Region champion. The last team other than the Blazers to win the tournament was Webster County back in 2012.
The game deserved better than what it got. In a normal year, this one would have seen a packed to the rafters house, with people standing out in the hallways on all sides of the gym, even if it was an opening round game.
From the very beginning the game gave every indication that it would come down to the final seconds. In the first quarter, there were two ties and four lead changes. Lyon County looked to have momentum late in the quarter as the Lyons moved out to an 18-13 lead. However, two quick baskets from Amani McGee, and another from William Bryan put the Blazers up 19-18 after one.
The second quarter opened with more of the same. There were five lead changes in the first couple of minutes of the quarter. The Lyons used an 8-3 spurt to take a 31-27 lead, it would be a lead they would not give up for the rest of the half. With Jackson Shoulders taking control down in the paint, Lyon County would lead by as many as 7 points, before taking a 44-39 lead into the locker room at the half.
Shoulders finished the opening half with 17 points, as he proved to be difficult matchup for the Blazers down in the lane. The play of William Bryan and K.J. Crump kept UHA in the game over the waning moments of the half. Bryan had 12 points at the break, while Crump added 10.
UHA opened the second half by turning up the defensive heat, and it had an impact right away. The Blazers hit the Lyons with a 7-0 run out of the gate to take a 46-44 lead. From that point the battle was on. Players on both teams made big plays on offense, defense, and on the glass as things went back and forth.
The third quarter saw four ties and ten, yes, I did say ten lead changes. Lyon County appeared to seize the momentum late in the quarter with an 8-0 run to go up 65-58 heading into the final 8 minutes. Travis Perry scored six of the eight points during that span.
Once again, just as it appeared they were in trouble, the Blazers responded and got back in the game, primarily by using their defensive pressure to force the Lyons into turnovers that they converted into baskets. A 10-3 run to open the quarter tied the game at 68-68, and it was game on the rest of the way.
Both teams had chances to close things out coming down the stretch. UHA missed some key free throws, while the Lyons had some turnover issues that kept the Blazers hanging around. An Amani McGee steal gave the Blazers the lead for the first time in a while at 72-71.
A 5-1 spurt put Lyon County up 77-73 inside the final minute, but UHA’s defense led to two quick scores to make it 77-77 inside of 20 seconds to go. Lyon County’s Travis Perry brought the ball down court, dribbled down the clock, and made his move towards the basket, with essentially everyone in the gym thinking he would take the shot, he dropped the pass off to Nick Whalin for the game winner.
For the game, Jackson Shoulders led the Lyons with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Travis Perry added 27.
Kevin Crump led four Blazers in double figures with 19. D.J. Quarles added 18 points. William Bryan finished with 17, while Amani McGee had 15.
Lyon County moves to 4-0 on the season. With Dawson Springs in COVID protocol, the Lyons advance to Saturday night’s title game, where they will play the winner of the game between Caldwell County and Crittenden County.
UHA falls to 1-3, and is now scheduled to be off until January 22, when they are scheduled to take on the Hopkinsville Tigers.
UHA — 19 20 19 19 – 77
LCHS — 18 26 21 14 – 79
UHA (1-4) – Crump 19, Quarles 18, Bryan 17, McGee 15, Grubbs 8
Lyon County (4-0) – J. Shoulders 28, Perry 27, Whalin 9, Bingham 6, Reddick 4, B. Shoulders 3, Gilbert 2