Triad rallies, but falls in OT to Highland

News-DemocratMarch 3, 2014 

BND

— Highland scored eight points in the fourth quarter and overtime Monday and survived to tell the tale.

The fourth-seeded Bulldogs couldn't protect an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, but they did just enough in overtime to defeat fifth-seeded Triad 50-46 in the Class 3A Troy Regional.

"I guess at this time of the year, it really doesn't matter how (you win). We were able to hang on and get that one tonight," said Highland coach Matt Elledge, whose club ended a five-game losing streak.

"It's a pretty big deal for our boys," he said. "We've been on a skid for a while, down a little bit. So obviously, this should help us bounce back a little bit. But we've got Marquette staring us in the face tomorrow night and not much time to prepare."

Highland (14-15) will play the top-seeded Explorers (20-6) in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Second-seeded Jerseyville (17-11) will face third-seeded Civic Memorial (18-10) in the other semifinal at 8. The Bulldogs and Marquette did not meet in the regular season.

It was a disappointing setback for the Knights (7-20), who were in position to win the game in regulation.

With the game knotted at 45, Triad freshman Noah Moss was whistled for an offensive foul as he worked to get open. A potential game-ending shot by Bulldogs senior Brock Portell was swatted away by Triad senior Matt Mersinger to send the game into OT.

Still, Knights coach Sam Drake was left scratching his head about the call against Moss. He did not receive an explanation.

"I don't know what that call was. I'll just leave it at that," Drake said. "I'll say that was a really tough call against us because we would have loved to have been able to get the last shot (or) get to the foul line."

Triad, which collected a game-high 16 points from senior Jason Barbour and 10 points apiece from Mersinger and senior Andrew Ducharme, shot 48 percent from the field (19-for-40).

But the Knights hurt themselves with 19 turnovers and 6-for-14 shooting from the free-throw line, including 1-for-5 in OT.

"We had some opportunities in overtime," said Drake, whose team was outscored 5-1 in the extra period. "We got to the foul line and missed some pretty clutch free throws down there. That's disappointing because it is uncharacteristic for us. One of the things the boys have done so well is make free throws down the stretch to put us in position to win."

Senior Aaron Elledge had 11 points to pace Highland, which shot 36 percent (16-for-44) and was charged with 13 turnovers. Seven other players scored for the Bulldogs, none in double figures.

Highland was in good shape when it seized its 42-34 lead on a basket by sophomore Brode Portell with 16 seconds to play in the third quarter. But Barbour hit a jumper at the buzzer, bringing the Knights within six going into the fourth quarter.

Ducharme's 3-pointer from the left corner put Triad ahead 45-43 with 4:20 to play, but a pair of free throws by Highland junior Cole Landmann tied the game at 45 with 4:01 left.

There was no more scoring in the fourth quarter, a period in which Highland's only points were on three free throws.

Barbour's free throw with 2:12 left in overtime gave Triad a 46-45 lead. But it was short-lived because Brock Portell popped a 3-pointer to put Highland on top to stay at 48-46 with 1:56 to play.

Both teams missed two free throws, and after Barbour couldn't connect on a baseline jumper, Portell made a free throw with 23.3 seconds to play to give the Bulldogs a 49-46 lead.

Triad followed with a turnover, and sophomore Austin Elledge sealed the win with a free throw at the 13.8-second mark.

"It definitely wasn't pretty, but it was definitely a win," said Matt Elledge, who was pleased with the Bulldogs' defensive effort against Moss. "We did a nice job on Noah. ... We wanted to make sure we tried to keep him from scoring as much as we could."

Moss, the Knights' point guard and their second-leading scorer at 11.7 points per game, finished with just four on 1-for-8 shooting.

"They did a great job defensively," Drake said. "From the tip, they came out and denied him the ball the length of the floor. They made it very tough for him. He struggled with that at times, but I think he's got a really bright future. He's as hard a worker as we've had here."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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