Henry Strattons shot fired up the small crowd in the gym of the first round game of the Pleasant Hill Invitational Jan. 10.
The Summit Christian Academy junior forward hit a jump shot with just a few seconds remaining on the clock in the fourth quarter, enough to lift the Eagles over Belton for a 46-44 victory.
The beginning of the game was a different story. The No. 2 seeded Pirates came out of the gate in the first four minutes hitting shot after shot, taking a 9-0 lead. But the No. 7 seeded Eagles, after calming their initial nerves, came firing right back to edge the score at 18-14 going into the second quarter.
The guys are very disappointed in how they performed, Belton head coach Greg Martin said. We played very flat after the first four minutes and shot the ball poorly in the second half. The guys just didnt play with the explosiveness and crispness that they are capable. Give SCA credit, they made the plays down the stretch to beat us and they earned the right to play in the semifinals.
Summit Christian Academy took their first lead of the game late in the second quarter as sophomore guard Taurin Hughes hit a shot then a three-pointer to give the Eagles a 24-22 advantage. Belton fought back with a basket each from senior guards Avan Ward and Kyle Simmons to take a 26-24 lead at halftime.
We came out with no energy and a little intimidated, Summit Christian Academy head coach Jake Kates said. It was tough starting a game at 9 p.m., but both teams had to. We finally got it going with our defense. The kids played hard and never quit.
Both teams scored eight points in the third quarter, keeping Belton ahead at 34-32. Later in the fourth quarter, the Pirates took a 42-38 advantage with two more baskets from Simmons and two points from Ward.
The Eagles werent ready to give up though, tying up the score and then taking a lead 44-42 with a basket from Stratton. But Ward was fouled and sunk both free throws to knot the score at 44-44 with less than a minute left in play.
Summit Christian Academy set up the shot and Stratton took it, giving the Eagles their 46-44 win with just 2.9 seconds left in the game.
The key is how these guys respond to the setback, Martin said. ...This is a defining moment for the direction and success of this team. We will see who and what kind of leadership we have and how they rally together. We may not have a shot at winning this tournament title, but there is still a lot of season and achievements out there for them to go get.
The Pirates were led in scoring by Ward with 13 points and followed by Padgett with eight points and Simmons with seven points. Lewis Wilkins and Branch added six points each and Phillip Dixon had four points.
Belton, now 6-7, took on No. 6 seeded Odessa in the consolation semifinals Thursday. If victorious, the Pirates will play in the fifth place contest at 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13.
For more photos of the game, visit www.demo-mo.com/sports/galleries/.