Last-second free throw does CHS in

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, February 15, 2012

COLUMBUS — Cathedral High School boys coach Peter Arnold called it a kick in the gut.

After leading the entire game against West Lowndes High School in the first round of the MHSAA Class 1A South State playoffs, the game was tied 78-78 with one second left Tuesday night.

Cathedral had just blocked a shot, knocking it out of bounds, and Arnold stressed to his players not to foul West Lowndes on the final possession.

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But West Lowndes got the ball in to its leading scorer, Bryant Smith, who shot from beyond the arc to try and win it. The shot didn’t go in, but Cathedral was called for a foul.

Smith missed the first two free throws, but made the final one, and Cathedral had no time left as the boys’ season came to an end with a 79-78 loss.

“It’s just a hard way to end the season,” Arnold said. “It’s really tough. To have it end the way it ended, it’s just a kick in the gut.”

Four Green Wave players scored in double digits, and Carl Hammitte led Cathedral with 21 points. Khalil Brice added 15 points, D.J. Perry had 14 points and Caleb Upton tallied 11 points.

Catheral led 40-35 at halftime and 61-53 at the end of the third.

“We led from start to finish, but we didn’t really play well,” Arnold said. “To give up that many points, we played terrible defensively. We turned it over with 20 seconds left but played one good defensive series when we blocked the shot.”

Smith scored 36 points on the evening, and Cody Crawford added 19 points for West Lowndes.

Arnold said his senior-laden team wanted to win so badly that sometimes the players got in their won way.

“When you want things too badly, sometimes you just end up doing the wrong thing,” Arnold said.

“They were playing a frantic press defense, and we just got a little too erratic and played too fast when we didn’t need to. We had opportunities, and we missed some free throws. Smith was fast as lightning, and he blew by us several times.”

But Arnold said protecting a lead is no easy task in basketball, or any other sport.

“The hardest thing to do in sports is hold onto a lead,” Arnold said. “We weren’t trying to protect it, we were just trying to play smart. It just didn’t work out.”

Cathedral ended its season with a 16-14 record.