Prep boys basketball: Cougars ousted

MORRISTOWN – Barnesville’s Zach Houston was not going to let his senior teammates end their careers Wednesday night. He just wouldn’t let it happen.

The Shamrocks (8-15) squandered a 13-point lead late in the third quarter and trailed, 55-54, after Frontier’s Drew Schneider knocked down a pair of free throws with 19.7 seconds remaining to play.

That’s when Houston came to the forefront.

Barnesville pushed the ball down the floor and got it to the 6-1 junior on the block to the right of the lane.

He pump-faked one Cougar into the air before kissing the ball gently off the glass for a 56-55 lead with 13.8 showing.

“It was fast,” Houston said of the Shamrocks pushing the ball up the floor. “I got it, pump-faked and put it in off the glass.”

Frontier, with no timeouts remaining, got the ball into Schneider’s hands, but the ball was jostled away as he drove down the lane and bodies went flying.

So happens, the ball went right to Houston, who was fouled immediately. He calmly stepped to the line and dropped in the first shot, giving his team a 57-55 edge. His second rolled off the rim and into the hands of the Cougars’ Taylor Merckle who let loose a desperation heave the clanked off the backboard.

“We kept believing and it ended our way,” Houston said.

Barnesville head coach Chris Pack was all smiles afterwards, but that wasn’t the case for much of the fourth quarter as Frontier made its charge.

“We got into a little bit of a funk there towards the end of the game,” Pack recalled. “We just got in that negative space where you keep thinking negative thoughts and bad things continued to happen.

“We stressed to the kids to believe in themselves and make something positive happen,” he continued. “We survived about as many mistakes as you can make in the fourth quarter and still win a ballgame.

“If we learn from our mistakes, we’ll be a difficult out for anyone.”

Houston led Barnesville with 16 points, including 10 in the final chapter, while Dylan MacMillan added 14 and Isaac McGee a dozen. Houston and Brandon Burkhart each pulled down seven rebounds.

Schneider had a huge night as he threw in six trifecta goals en route to a game-high 29.

Jordan Jefferson chipped in 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Merckle had 10 boards.

Barnesville advances to a Saturday date with Shadyside at 1 p.m., also at Union Local High School.