Lafayette’s Jonathan Sellers hit 18 of 25 free throw attempts but none bigger than the two charity tosses he sank with 21 seconds left to play against visiting Hawthorne last week. In fact, Sellers scored his team’s last 11 points of the game in a 75-74 thriller win over a very good Hawthorne team. The senior guard led all scorer’s with 32 points. He had four assists in the game to go with his seven rebounds (unofficial). The Hornets improved to 3-4 overall in picking up their second district victory.

Hornet coach Daryl Fletcher said the win was a big one. “It was a big time game,” he said. “Hawthorne is a very competitive team and very fast. I felt we played the game we wanted to play tonight. Our seniors really stepped up. Everyone seemed to have contributed and it was a great win for us.”

With just over six minutes to play in the game the Hornets were on the short end of a 61-55 score. However, a rebound basket by Joseph Edwards and four consecutive free throws by Sellers tied the game at 61-61. “Our whole mind set coming into this season was we wanted to run and we wanted to press,” said the Hornet mentor. “Eric (McIntyre), Joseph and Jonathan are great ball handlers and when they get the ball in the middle to Joseph we are going to get some easy baskets. Once that game plan started we started getting back into the game.”

The game was tied at 65 before the visiting Hornets took a 69-65 lead on a basket by Jimmy Johnson and a rebound basket of a missed Johnson free throw. With just over a minute to play, McIntryre came up with a steal and scored to give Lafayette a 70-69 lead. Hawthorne would regain the lead before Seller’s completed an old-fashioned three-point play to send Lafayette in front 73-71.

Roger Goggins stood at the charity stripe with 34 seconds left in the game and connected on the front end of a two-shot foul. Lafayette failed to block out on the boards and Marice Cook came up with the carom for a put back sending Hawthorne in front 74-73. Sellers, in control, drove the right side of the lane and was fouled putting him at the line for the winning free throws. Hawthorne had the final look at the basket as Cook launched a three-pointer that bounded off to the left of the goal where Johnson just missed tipping it in.

Coach Fletcher said his team played with a lot of heart in securing the win. “We found ourselves down and they fought back and that showed a lot of character,” he said. “The results speaks for itself. We had a little lack in getting back on defense at times. We made a mistake or two but that is mental growth and we will fight through that.”

A busted offensive play turned out to be just what the Hornets needed in their comeback effort. Down 69-68, McIntyre drove the lane only to trip toward the basket. The ball came ajar and ended up in the hands of Sellers who just laid it in. That basket started the Hornet rally. “That was big play for us,” said Fletcher. “These guys work hard in practice and a heads up play like that shows up in the game.”

The game was tied 11 times with 16 lead changes. Hawthorne led 22-20 at the first stop and took a 40-36 lead to the locker room at the half and led by as many as five points throughout the second half until Lafayette tied it at 61-all in the fourth.

Edwards finished with 13 points for Lafayette while McIntyre netted 12 points. McIntyre hit two treys. Jamal Reid tossed in seven points but had nine rebounds for the game to go with five assists. Antwan Brown had a basket for two points but it was a big one in the first quarter that tied the game at 20-20. Kevin Waters played a strong defensive game and scored two points.

Hawthorne placed four players in double figures led by Johnson’s 17 points. Ed Ray finished with 11 while Cook and Goggins each scored 10 each.

Lafayette returns to the hardwood tomorrow night at Branford.

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