By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
DANVILLE ? Isaac McSorley stood at the charity stripe with the Tigers down four points and .3 seconds showing on the clock after getting fouled on a three-pointer in Danville on Tuesday night. He hit the first two shots and perfectly missed the third shot, allowing Alex Dentlinger to sky to the hoop for a tip attempt, but the shot narrowly rolled off and New London fell just short.
The Tigers had scrapped back from a seven-point deficit late in the game to nearly force overtime, but at the end of the night, the scoreboard showed Danville 79, New London 77.
It was the first matchup this year for the two fierce rivals, and it was just as exciting as any of their matchups last season, despite the notible absense of Tiger forward Mason Porter, who is still recovering from a finger injury.
New London came out firing early, scoring the first six points of the ballgame, but Danville closed the first quarter out on a 26-10 run. The Bears held a 26-16 advantage after the first quarter, and never relinquished the lead.
The Tigers began the second period even better than the first, hitting nine-straight points to open the quarter. The Danville lead was cut to 26-25, but the Bears once again pulled away. A high-scoring second period ended with Danville leading 44-36, despite a 12-point first half from New London sophomore Grant Swanson.
New London began to creep back in the third quarter. The Tigers played their best defensive quarter of the game and sliced the lead back down to two points at 54-52 when the third quarter buzzer sounded.
Unlike the previous three quarters, it was Danville who got the early start to the period. The Bears jumped back out to a three-posession lead, and it took a gritty effort from the Tigers to tighten up the score.
In the final seconds, New London found themselves trailing 79-75. A missed free throw was rebounded by McSorley, who rushed to the corner and threw up a three-pointer. He was fouled on the shot, but it went just off the back iron, and New London needed a miracle.
A Tiger timeout after the first made free throw set up the final play. McSorley sank the second and Dentlinger got to the right spot after the third free throw was missed, but the tip in just couldn?t find the bottom of the net.
After the game, New London head coach Bryant Porter said it was unfortunate that the game got to the point of needing that shot to fall, noting that the team needs to step up its intensity earlier on next time.
?We really haven?t played a good game all year,? Porter said. We?ve been kind of holding on (and) now that we?re playing the better teams, it?s coming out...We just have to find ourselves over Christmas break.?
McSorley finished the night with 24 points to lead the Tigers. Grant Swanson had 17 points. Keontae Luckett and Alex Dentlinger scored 13 apiece. Tyler Henecke had eight and Koby McBeth rounded out the scoring effort with two.