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2/26/2014 10:53:00 AM Prep boys basketball: Princeton falls short in regional quarter
Rick LaFollette Sports Writer
PRINCETON — The Princeton boys basketball team overcame a disastrous third period to pull to within one point with seconds left in the game Tuesday, but Prophetstown — which had been struggling all night from the free throw line — managed to come through from the stripe to preserve a 59-56 win over the Tigers in a the Class 2A Princeton Regional quarterfinal.
Grant Ames sank a pair of free throws with 2.8 seconds left to lift the No 4-seeded Prophets over the No. 5-seeded Tigers.
Prophetstown (13-9) moves on to meet top-seeded Seneca at 6 tonight.
Princeton struggled against the Prophets’ 1-3-1 zone most of the second half and found itself down by as much as 45-35 early in the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers’ J.J. Vacarro got a hot hand, and the rest of the offense started to click.
A jumper by Vaccaro pulled Princeton to within 55-53 with less than a minute to play.
But a pair of free throws by Josh Sigel with 18.6 seconds to play gave the Prophets some breathing room at 57-53.
A long 3-pointer by Vaccaro on the ensuing possession made it 57-56 with 3.7 left. Following a timeout, Princeton’s Zach Andersen fouled Ames on the inbounds pass, and the 6-foot-1 junior calmly sank two from the charity stripe to seal the win.
For the game, the Prophets only connected on 20-of-35 free throws, but they hit 4-of-6 in the closing minute.
“Our free throw shooting, that was the biggest thing,” Prophetstown coach Cordell Juhola said. “Usually, we shoot better at the free throw line than that. When it comes down the stretch, everybody focuses on the last few, but all those free throws are important. We got a lot of opportunities.”
Princeton led 30-25 at halftime but was outscored by Prophetstown 19-5 in the third period.
A bucket by Ethan Howard tied the game at 33-33.
Then Ames followed seconds later with a 3-pointer that gave Prophestown the lead for good at 36-33.
“We could have folded our tents, but instead we battled and battled,” Princeton coach Jesse Brandt said. “We just kind of ran out of time at the end. The third quarter obviously was a big difference. They changed defenses after halftime. They switched up to 1-3-1 and we had some issues with it.”
Vaccaro led Princeton in scoring with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. Garett Duffin added 18 points.
“I’m proud of our seniors for battling the way they did,” Brandt said. “I’m proud of the effort the guys gave, for sure.”
Howard led all scorers with 23 for the Prophets. Ames ended with 15 points.