ERIE — A free throw with less than a second on the clock from Cherryvale’s Landon Bennett gave the Chargers a thrilling 51-50 win over the Erie Red Devils on Tuesday night.
“Every time we come to Erie, the game is almost exactly like that,” Cherryvale head coach Aaron Rehmert said. “Both teams played well enough to win. It’s almost a shame somebody had to lose that game. But I’m just proud of our guys.”
Erie, which is ranked No. 8 in 2A in the KBCA polls, suffered its first loss of the season.
“It was a good, competitive game,” Erie head coach Nick Pfeifer team. “I wasn’t pleased with some of the turnovers that we had. When you help a good team like Cherryvale, that makes it difficult. And they got us.”
Gavin Hooper led Cherryvale with 15 points, with 10 coming in the first half.
“His numbers may not be up as much this year, but he’s doing everything,” Rehmert said. “All of his 15 points were pretty timely. Erie made it difficult for him to get his shots.”
Bennett, who hit the game-winning free throw after being fouled with 0.7 seconds left in the game, scored all 12 of his points in the second half.
“I thought he came out flat and wasn’t playing a lick of defense,” Rehmert said. “I told him he needs to pick it up, and he manned up. He brought it the second half.”
The Red Devils were paced in scoring by Matthew Vail, who had 13.
“He’s not always going to score 20 points per game, but he did what he needed to do,” Pfeifer said. “I thought he played well.”
Both teams were content to play at a slower pace throughout the night as buckets came at a premium.
“We didn’t want to get in a scoring match with team,” Pfeifer said. “When you hold a team to 51 points, you feel like you should have a good chance to win. But we didn’t get one more stop and get one more basket.”
The Red Devils, now 4-1 on the season, face the challenge of overcoming a loss for the first time this season as they travel to Bluestem on Friday.
“The best way to move on is to come in and practice hard,” Pfeifer said. “This stretch gets harder. Were we going to win every game this year? Not realistically. This is our first challenge. I’m excited to see how we respond.”
As for Cherryvale, the Chargers hope to extend its three-game winning streak at Neodesha.
“You always worry coming back from break,” Rehmert said. “We had to bring the intensity. Once we turn things on, we know we can be pretty decent. We matched up with Erie well and we’re excited to carry that momentum forward into Friday.”
Cherryvale 51, Erie 50
Cherryvale: 11 14 12 14 — 51
Erie: 17 6 12 15 — 50
Cherryvale: Landon Bennett 12, Devin Sawyer 9, Zaine Lantz 8, Jacobi Barnett 7, Gavin Hooper 15
Erie: Matthew Vail 13, Mark Bogner 11, Tyler Duding 5, Tyler Pasquarelli 5, Caype Johnston 4, Eric Dillinger 10, Dawson Lehman 2