MOUNT PLEASANT — Fairfield High School boys basketball coach Mick Flattery can feel the big win coming for his young team.
It almost happened in one of the most raucous environments of the season, with one of the area’s biggest rivalries alive and well.
Mount Pleasant’s Keegan Kohorst hit one free throw with 1.1 seconds left, lifting the Panthers to a 49-48 Southeast Conference overtime win Friday. It wasn’t without drama, however, as Fairfield’s Tate Allen hit the back iron from 75 feet to try to win the game.
“What a great experience for our young guys. Didn’t like the foul at the end, but these are the kinds of games you can’t practice,” Flattery said. “Our team has four classes on it, and they trust each other. That’s not easy.”
Overtime was a seesaw affair after both teams missed shots from point-blank range near the end of regulation.
There were five lead changes in the four-minute extra session, and Fairfield freshmen Max Weaton and JJ Lane both had to step to the line in pressure-packed situations to continue giving the Trojans a chance.
Weaton hit a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left to put Fairfield up 47-46, but Kohorst gave the Panthers the lead back with two free throws. Lane missed one of two and was iced by a timeout between, and Kohorst drove the lane for a final shot before getting fouled. He missed the first but swished the second to win the game.
“How about two of our freshmen really stepping up there?” Flattery said. “Our younger guys are starting to now play like sophomores and juniors. They’re getting better as the season goes along.”
The teams were tied at 20 at halftime, but Mount Pleasant’s Clayton Lowery and Jaxon Hoyle buried 3-pointers in the first minute to push the Panthers’ lead to six.
Fairfield responded with a 10-0 run, and led 36-30 after three quarters when Lane scored on a runner in the final minute.
Both teams had ample opportunities to win the game in regulation, but turnovers doomed both efforts. Drew Martin’s basket gave Fairfield a 43-41 lead, then Hoyle scored to tie it at 43.
Later, Weaton missed from close-range, as did Kohorst, and Martin’s shot to win it at the horn hit the back iron, forcing overtime, where both teams faced serious foul trouble.
“I love the effort our guys are giving,” Flattery said. “We’re giving ourselves in a chance in a lot of games. I liked our shot selection when we made that run in the third quarter.
Kohost finished with only six points for the Panthers, but was clutch late.
“He’s been their catalyst for three years, but it seems like 10,” Flattery said. “I may have to go to his graduation to make sure he has his diploma. But he plays the game the right way, and takes what’s given. I respect player like that.”
Fairfield visits Knoxville Thursday for its regular-season finale.