OLIVE HILL – It was nearly a disaster.
In seconds, however, it became an utter delight — at least if you root for West Carter.
The Comets’ Braden Leadingham’s two buckets in the last four seconds left gave West Carter a 58-54 win over Russell on Wednesday at John “Hop” Brown Court.
It would’ve been pretty good if Leadingham just led the Comets with 14 points. What he achieved in the last four seconds that you’ll remember, but he’s the first to tell you it wasn’t all his doing.
Russell’s Brady Bell fouled Tyson Webb with 10.1 seconds remaining. Webb canned the first of the two double-bonus free throws, but his second clanked off the left side of the rim.
The Red Devils’ Charlie Bechtel grabbed the rebound, but West Carter’s Trace Tackett deflected his outlet pass glanced off Bell to Leadingham, who faked left, dribble to his right — and past Bechtel — for the layup.
“First thing I thought, I saw (the ball) up in the air, I was going to take it to the hole ‘cause I wanted to score and win the game,” Leadingham said. “ … I figured we were gonna be in a tight game.”
That wasn’t all. After Russell (8-15) called a time out with 2.8 seconds left, Leadingham stole Nate Wheeler’s pass and knocked down another layup.
Leadingham’s line was important for much more than his last two steals and scores because he made — six of 11 shots from the field and had five steals, three assists and a block.
“We had several kids contribute,” West Carter coach Jeremy Webb said. “All season long, we’ve never really had to rely on just one person.”
See COMETS on B-3
from B-1 What was more, the win ended West Carter’s (13-9) threegame losing streak. The Comets: out-rebounded the Red Devils, 32-26 (Ethan Adkins had 11); got 11 points each from Adkins and Rodney Evans; and converted 14 Russell turnovers into 18 points while committing just seven.
Wednesday featured more lengthy runs than an marathoner preparing for this August's Pikes Peak Marathon in Colorado.
Russell's was first – a 12-4 game-opening spree Bell (14 points, six rebounds) led with five points. West Carter thoroughly made up for it with a 17-2 streak over the first and second stanzas.
But just when you thought the Comets would run away, a thundering thud times two.
West Carter didn't score over the final 4:03 of the first half, while
Bechtel's offensive rebound and stick-back of Max Cantrell's miss pulled the Red Devils to within 24-23 – the halftime score because Russell had nary a point over the final 2:52.
Bell's field goal with 58 seconds left in the third gave Russell a 4139 lead, but something else surely made everyone cringe. With a little more than two minutes into the third, Russell's Jared Goodman crashed into the scorer's table diving for a loose ball and injured his left leg.
“Right now, we don't know,” Russell coach Bryan Groves said of Goodman's status. “ … The way he landed and as hard as he got hit, hopefully we'll say a little prayer, but it's not looking promising.”
A 4-2 mini-run put Russell ahead, 52-48 – which West Carter erased on Adkins' 3 with 1:53 to go. A Cantrell bucket with 53 seconds left put the Red Devils up 54-53.