DECATUR — The call just didn't go Anthony Frank's way.
The Riverton senior guard tried to draw the charge while LSA's Cam Walls darted down the baseline with only 2.1 seconds left and the game deadlocked 50-50.
Walls collided with Frank. The whistle blared. The verdict was against Frank.
Walls smoothly sank his first free throw and LSA fended off Riverton 51-50 in the first slate of games at the Team Soy St. Teresa Christmas Tournament on Wednesday.
It maybe backfired, but Riverton coach Kody Kirkpatrick wouldn't have wanted Frank to do anything differently.
"100 percent of the time we want Anthony to step over and try to take the charge,” Kirkpatrick said. “If the call goes our way, it's our ball with about three seconds left and maybe we can make something happen. If not, it goes into overtime.
“There, I thought we were going to get one. But that's the game of basketball. Not every ball falls your way and not every call goes your way.”
Walls was LSA's backbone the entire game and finished with 12 points and three assists.
“Cam had a great game for us,” LSA coach Dave Kreps said. “He attacked the basket for us and kept the team poised for us when we needed him to. He had a good basketball game and stepped up and made a big free throw.”
Without Walls, LSA might have unhinged.
The Lions started lackluster and when they appeared to be on the verge of breaking the game open during the third quarter, Riverton charged right back.
LSA started the third quarter on a 7-0 run for a 34-25 lead with 4:51 left in the third quarter, a sequence capped by Grant Karsten's 3 in the corner.
But Riverton tied it up 34-34 by the end of the third quarter after a 9-0 run, led by Frank. He hit an open 3 just before the buzzer for the tie and finished with 20 points.
“He's kind of struggled to get going early in the season,” Kirkpatrick said. “I think his aggressiveness to the basket early was what got him going. He was really downhill on the drive.”
LSA's Ezra Schaal buoyed the Lions down the stretch.
He provided a clutch putback attempt with 2 minutes left to go up 50-48 and scored all of his 11 points in the fourth quarter in addition to eight rebounds. It snapped his streak of six straight double-doubles.
“He was nonexistent for three quarters, but you know what? You can't fault him,” Kreps said. “He's carried us in the last six basketball games for us with double-doubles. He was two rebounds shy of a double-double, but he had to sit out the entire second quarter because of foul trouble. I don't fault him. As a team collectively, we were just not ready to play.”
However, Riverton's Shane Yamco poked the ball away from Schaal at midcourt and ran away with the ball for an easy layup to knot up the game 50-50 with 25 seconds left.
Schaal would later redeem himself.
After Walls drew the blocking foul and made his first free throw, Walls missed his second and Schaal pulled down the offensive rebound to clinch the victory.
St. Teresa 48, Sullivan 35
St. Teresa effectively shut down Sullivan with defense.
The Bulldogs (5-2) led 20-13 at halftime and pulled ahead 28-13 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Manny Green and Cayden Brilley.
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The Redskins constantly turned the ball over and went scoreless for the first four minutes of the second half until Josh Stutzman's jumper finally ended the rut.
“That was part of our game plan: Try to force them into uncomfortable situations,” St. Teresa coach Tom Noonan said. “I thought we did a good job of that, especially in the second half. I thought we played harder and better together. That energy and those turnovers really got us in transition. That was the difference.”
St. Teresa still struggled to put away Sullivan until the Bulldogs started the fourth quarter on a 9-0 run to seal the win.
Isaiah Bond led St. Teresa with 11 points.
“I really loved the way our guys in the second half came off ball screens,” Noonan said. “I thought we came off ball screens aggressively and we did a better job making decisions. Right now, we have 11 practices with everybody and they're still getting to know each other.”
It was a rough start for LSA, which looked completely flat.
The Lions started with a 7-2 deficit and sputtered into halftime with a 24-23 lead.
Kreps certainly wasn't thrilled with the first half performance, especially after Tanner Heick fouled Riverton's Tyler Moushon behind the arc at the halftime buzzer.
Kreps and the Lions walked into the locker room while Moushon knocked down two of the three free throws.
“We just got outhustled in the beginning of the basketball game, which allows your opponent to know they can play with you,” Kreps said. “I'm very disappointed in our energy tonight, very disappointed in our offensive execution and we talked about it as a team. All you can do after a game like this is a win's a win. That's all you can do.”
Kreps called two consecutive timeouts after Walls delivered his go-ahead free throw in the fourth quarter.
He debated whether or not Walls should try to make the second free throw attempt or purposely miss it. Kreps elected the former, but Walls missed and Schaal grabbed the offensive board.
That second option wasn't so bad after all.
“It worked out,” Kreps said. “We got an offensive rebound. Thank goodness it wasn't a foul.”
Sophomore Mike Fiala had another exceptional night for LSA. He led the Lions with 16 points.
This is his first year starting on the varsity team, and the Lions are 10-1. That's also true for the other sophomore standout, Karsten, who had eight points.
“My team was just running the offense and I was getting the ball,” Fiala said. “I was able to get open shots from the offense.
“I'm just glad I got a shot and that coach Kreps gave me a shot to start and play and give me a chance in practice.”