MCMECHEN - Capping a tremendous 40-point explosion, Linsly's Akil Blount rebounded his own missed shot and scored with just 4.1 seconds remaining to lift the Cadets to a 92-90 victory against Bishop Donahue on Thursday night at the Fr. Raymond Jablinske gymnasium.
Blount's game-winning basket came after the Bishops' sparkplug senior guard Garrett Yurisko had rallied the hosts from an 87-79 deficit with 3:48 remaining.
The Cadets, winning for the fifth straight time after opening the season with three defeats, had finally opened some daylight down the stretch during an intensely played back-and-forth battle that featured 18 lead changes, 13 of which occurred in the opening half.
The final deadlock came with a little more than 20 seconds remaining when Yurisko buried a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to wipe out an 90-87 Linsly advantage. Yurisko scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter, including six in a row to pull the Bishops to within 87-81.
Teddy Goodwin-Roe's free throw gave the Cadets a seven-point lead but the Bishops again ripped off six straight points as Austin Ghaphery got a rebound basket, Wyle Koontz connected on a turnaround shot and D.T. Meeker capped off a 31-point evening with a slick baseline drive to the basket.
Blount, who had 13 rebounds to go with his 40-point game, had a chance to push the lead back to three points when he was fouled at the 43-second mark. However, he missed the front of the 1-and-1. Seizing the rebound was Linsly sophomore Jameson Murray, who had yet to score or even attempt a shot in the first 31-plus minutes.
Murray put the ball off the glass to put the Cadets up by three, only to see Yurisko bring the near jam-packed crowd back on its feet with his game-trying 3-pointer that cleanly swished through the net. Blount then took the ball to the basket missed the first attempt but scored on the rebound with just 4.1 seconds remaining.
The Bishops' last-ditch attempt to reverse the outcome was denied when Meeker had his 3-point attempt from deep in the right corner blocked out of bounds. Just 0.2 seconds showed on the clock, which would not have given Bishop Donahue enough time for anything but a tap at a chance to tie the game. Time expired on the clock as the ball was inbounded and the Bishops were handed just their second loss of the season in 11 games.
''I knew this game was not over even when we had the 12-point lead in the fourth quarter," Cadets coach James Wallace said. ''Bishop Donahue is always in the game the way they can shoot the basketball.
''Both teams played with a lot of intesity. Jameson (Murray) made a big play at the end for us with his rebound and basket., I really felt good for him. We've got a couple of kids that don't get a lot of recognition but they are very important to this team."
Among the leading highlights along with Blount in Thursday night's victory were two highly talented underclassmen. Sophomore streaker Anthony Wallace scored 24 points, including 13 in the first quarter as the Cadets broke out to a 29-22 advantage after there were 11 lead changes in the early going.
Also with a big first half before running into some foul problems was Jibri Blount, Akil's freshman brother. The still-improving Jibri Bount had eight points and pulled down seven rebounds during the first two quarters before finishing with 15 points and rebounding nine missed shots.
It was also Jibri Blount who hit the tying basket at the end of the half on a drive into the lane after the Bishops had rallied from their first double-digit deficit to take a 47-45 lead.
''They were throwing dirt in our coffin several times, but our kids kept digging out of it," Bishops coach Tom Wise said. ''Linsly has a bunch of athletic kids and were really had no answer for Akil Blount's size and athleticism.
''Garrett never gives up and will battle you every second he's on the floor " added Wise in praising his daring senior guard's non-stop determination during the late comeback.
Meeker was on fire most of the game, scoring 10 points in the opening quarter, adding eight in the second period and nine in the third round before picking up a couple of important baskets down the stretch.
All five of Bishop Donahue's starters reached double digits? Joining Meeker and Yursiko in keying the offense were Ghaphery with 16 points, Koontz with 11 on 6 of 8 shooting and Chad Riedel with 10 points despite some early foul problems.
''I was disappointed with our defense giving up 92 points," Wise said. ''We allowed them too many easy baskets in transition. But they run the floor very well."
Wise was also unhappy with a couple of missed blockouts on free throws that resulted in two putback goals for the Cadets.
''We had our opportunities but we didn't help ourselves when we allowed them some offensive rebounds and baskets on missed free throws," he said.
''Our team has been really playing well in our five-game winning streak," Wallace pointed out. ''But we have to keep it up. We're very young and it is going to take time for us to learn how to finish off games. We let them back in it, but give Yurisko credit for what he did in the fourth quarter. He plays hard all the time and does a great job running their offense,"