By Travis Miller
Caleb Brannon finished with a game-high 23 points for Class 3A No. 7 rated Lebanon (12-3) Saturday night against Kokomo — but he needed 26.
His last-second three-point attempt from the top of the key rattled in and out of the basket at Memorial Gym, giving host Class 4A No. 10 rated Kokomo (16-2) a 44-41 victory, their 25th in a row at home.
“Kokomo is a great team and they have a lot of great athletes,” Lebanon coach Albert Hendrix said. “They are a great basketball team that is in the Top 10 in 4A. Our kids stepped up tonight and really played hard.”
Lebanon was able to keep it close throughout thanks to five ties and eight lead changes, but in the end free throw struggles were the difference.
Jake Marshall missed two free throws with less than 30 seconds to go and the Tigers trailing 42-40.
After Kokomo missed the front-end of a one-and-one situation Cord Barricklow corralled the rebound and was later fouled on the other end. He hit the first free throw with nine seconds left, but missed the second. Tayler Persons rebounded for Kokomo and hit two free throws to give the Kats their final 44-41 lead.
Lebanon advanced the ball to mid-court and called timeout to set up Brannon’s final shot. His leaning three-point attempt was just off as time expired.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game,” Kokomo coach Brian McCauley said. “They are having an outstanding year and I am really proud of the way that our guys just gutted it out and got it done tonight.”
For more of this story, read Tuesday's Lebanon Reporter.