Boys sweet Sixteen finalsChristian County 65, Rowan County 63 (2OT)

Christian County beats Rowan County for state title at buzzer in second OT

buzzer-beater in second overtime finally puts away Rowan Co.

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2011 

Regulation simply wasn't long enough to hold Saturday's finals of the KHSAA/PNC Boys' Sweet Sixteen.

Veontae Lewis' jumper from the left corner beat the final buzzer in double overtime and lifted Christian County to a 65-63 victory over Rowan County, witnessed by a Rupp Arena crowd of 14,644.

"I knew it was good," said Lewis, a 6-foot senior. "I'm feeling good."

The Colonels, playing in the Sweet Sixteen for the fifth time in six years, became the first district runner-up to win the state title since Hopkinsville in 1985.

After losing to University Heights, the last 2nd Region team to win the state title (1992), in the district finals, Christian County swept the 2nd Region and closed the season on a seven-game win streak. The Colonels (25-9) won 15 of their last 16.

Included were Sweet Sixteen wins over defending champ Shelby Valley (83-40) and Lexington Catholic (67-62). Saturday morning's 46-43 victory over top-ranked Eastern marked Coach Kerry Stovall's 200th in his 10 seasons at the school.

The Colonels were state runners-up in 1976 and 1979.

Lewis led the win with 20 points, including seven in the first overtime and four in the second, plus four assists.

Nick Riley, 5-for-9 from three-point range, had 19 points before fouling out. Tournament MVP Anthony Hickey had 17 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and set up Lewis for the winning shot.

"Whatever it takes. God was with me," Hickey said.

"My teammates were with me. We pulled it out. That's all that matters."

Rowan's D.J. Townsend slashed through the lane and scored with 1:38 left in the second overtime. However, officials ruled Townsend had charged, his fifth foul of the game, nullifying the goal.

After timeouts at 1:30 and 12.7, Christian inbounded to the 5-11 Hickey in the backcourt.

He would have been a logical pick for the final shot. Instead, he worked his way to the top of the key, drew the defense to him, then passed.

"I knew that if Anthony could draw some defenders, we would get a look on the perimeter," Stovall said. "And Veontae was there, wide open. He made big shot after big shot tonight in the championship game, and he just stepped up and made another — the biggest shot of his life."

Said Lewis: "When it left my hands, it felt good, and it went in. ... When I was little, I always dreamed about (this)."

Rowan (30-6) had a 15-game win streak snapped.

"We showed so much heart," Coach Shawn Thacker said. "It's disappointing. When they grow up, they'll be very proud of what they got done. I don't know if that's the greatest high school game played in this gym, but it may be."

Adam Wing racked up 31 points and 13 rebounds for Rowan. He shot 8-for-11 from the floor, hitting seven of eight three-point attempts and all eight of his foul shots.

Townsend added 12 points and four assists.

Christian County led 23-21 at halftime.

Hickey had 11 and Riley seven to pace the Colonels.

Wing had 15 for Rowan, going 5-for-5 from long range.

Coming on the heels of a 5-for-5 showing in Saturday's semifinals, Wing ended the half 10-for-10 on the day. Including two-pointers during the semis, Wing's overall Saturday accuracy was 12-for-12 before he missed a jumper from the free-throw line with 32 seconds left in the half.

He added one more three in the third quarter before missing a fourth-quarter trey.

The teams were tied at 35 through three quarters and 49 through four.

Christian took a 49-45 lead on a Hickey stick-back with 1:55 left.

Rowan scored the last four points in regulation to tie and the final five in the last 10 seconds of the first overtime.

Trailing 61-56, Townsend appeared to hit a three-pointer, although officials ruled it a two, and Rowan took timeout with 9.7 seconds left.

Donovan Kates missed the front end of a one-and-one at :08.6, and Darrell Cross buried a three from in front of his bench as time expired.

Awards

All-tournament — Corey Rogers (Clark Co.); Scott Schuette (Lex. Catholic); Gavin Dunagan (Wayne Co.); Blake Clark (Marshall Co.); Remy Abell, Lyonell Gaines (Eastern); Derek Willis, Corey Washburn (Bullitt East); D.J. Thompson, Adam Wing, Darrell Cross (Rowan Co.); Veontae Lewis, Anthony Hickey, Donovan Kates (Christian Co.). MVP — Anthony Hickey (Christian Co.). Academic scholarships — Wayne Michael Martin (Clark Co.); John Dudley Hilton (Bell Co.); Kyle Hopper (Wayne Co.). Larry Conley Ultimate Teammate — Anthony Hickey (Christian Co.). Leadership — Jon Stacy (Rowan Co.). Sportsmanship — Marcoreyon Tandy (Christian Co.). Ted Sanford (for ability, sportsmanship, academics, citizenship) — Gavin Dunagan (Wayne Co.)

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