Accentuating what is likely the final home game of the season, the Labette Cardinals defeated the Highland Scotties, 53-52, with a game-winning dunk from Kawasiki Ricks in the final second.
Ricks’ slam came off a dish from forward Eric Dillinger, who was standing underneath the basket, with the game’s final seconds ticking away.
“Highland had been hedging in front of the post. So we wanted to have the weak side open,” Labette head coach Jason Hinson said. “Eric made a great play and Kawasiki made a great cut. That was a tough finish.”
Dillinger’s assist was another notch on a resume for a freshman with a habit of late-game heroics.
The Erie High School graduate hit a late go-ahead triple against Allen, swiped a game-sealing steal against Kansas City Kansas and converted game-icing free throws against Southeast.
“He didn’t panic,” Hinson said. “He’s cool under pressure. Most guys would’ve forced a reverse layup. But he knew he had time. I don’t know if he saw the clock or not. But that’s unselfish basketball.”
Labette was paced on the scoresheet by Kamryn Edwards, who had 19 points. Highland’s Chris Flippin led the Scotties with 14 points.
Labette took 59 shots as a team, 12 more than the Scotties. The Cardinals were limited to 10 turnovers while Highland coughed the ball up 18 times.
“The turnovers were big for us,” Hinson said. “We had a few too many empty possessions. We have to know when we have numbers or when we need to make them guard us.”
Labette improved to 13-12 overall and 5-8 in KJCCC action with the win. Highland dropped to 14-14 and 5-8, respectively.
Out of 13 wins for Labette, 10 have come at home.
“It’s the energy with great crowds,” Hinson said. “We’re able to focus in here at home.”
The other three victories were at neutral sites as the Cardinals have not won a true road game this winter.
Labette travels north to face Neosho County in Chanute in Wednesday’s regular season finale. The Cardinals will travel for the first round of the NJCAA Region VI Tournament with a win or loss.
“(Neosho County is) playing much better, so it’s going to be a fight,” Hinson said. “We have to prove we can win on the road because we’ll have to win a playoff game on the road. We’ll have to focus in the whole game.”
Labette: Julius Lymon 4, Eric Dillinger 3, Brandon Taylor 7, Kamryn Edwards 19, Kawasiki Ricks 11, Jayde Duncan 3, Christian Yeates 6
Highland: Tyree Green 2, Greg Moore 13, RJ Sears 10, Gunner Fort 2, Chris Flippin 14, KJ Ware 4, Aiden Wood 3, Tosh Lyons 2, Josh Owens 2
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