ARTHUR -- In a battle of two Arthur schools that are located a mile and a half apart it was Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond boys' basketball team that pulled away from Arthur Okaw Christian in the final minutes to win 61-52. The Knights outscored the Conquering Riders 13-2 in the final 2:38.
The largest lead of the non-conference game had been six points and that was by the Conquering Riders. The game was deadlocked for the eighth and final time at 50 on a free throw by Kobe Wells for the Knights. A basket by Will Cohan put A-L-A-H in front to stay. Austin Romine's basket was followed by a steal and layup for a 56-50 advantage with a minute left. Adam Day made one of two free throws before AOC's Benny Lee scored what would be the final points for the Conquering Riders with 35.5 seconds left. Wells' basket was followed by a free throw each by Day and Cohan as the Knight fans celebrated the win.
The Knights switched from its normal man-to-man to a 1-3-1 zone, which helped them get six AOC fourth quarter turnovers. Prior to that the Conquering Riders had just eight turnovers.
"Our game plan was the same as it is every game to try and take away their strengths," said A-L-A-H coach Dale Schuring. "For some of those kids they shoot the three very well. They have some good drivers and good rebounders. I thought for the most part we did that. Obviously because they have good players they got some of those things on us. Overall I thought we did pretty well on our defensive game plan."
As for the Knights 1-3-1 Schuring said, "I think our 1-3-1 hurt them a little bit. We used it last year and had some success with it and we have used it less this year, but it came through for us tonight."
AOC fell to 23-7, while the Knights improved to 15-10.
"Our leadership kind of faded late," said Arthur Okaw Christian coach Greg Mast. "They switched to a 1-3-1 and I was too stubborn to call a timeout. I wanted the guys to recognize it and make the call on the fly. You live and you learn. Execution is the key and Arthur executed better than we did tonight defensively and offensively."
The game featured 12 lead changes.
"Our downfall is when we don't run offense," said Schuring. "We turn it over and take bad shots and that leads to break outs. In the second half I thought we made some nice adjustments in terms of within our offense as we ran the offfense to get what we wanted."
Benny Lee led all players with 21 points, while Ian Lowry had 10 for AOC.
"Benny did kind of the same thing he has been doing all season," said Mast. "He does everything well. There is nothing about his game that is going to be glaringly obvious to you because he rebounds and scores inside and outside."
The Knights were led by Will Cohan with 19 and Austin Romine had 17, including eight in the fourth quarter.The 17 points was a season-high for Austin Romine.
"Austin is really good at the top of our zone," said Schuring. "He is a gambler. He has the ability to finish some crazy shots around the basket. I don't know how he does it, but he does it consistently and hopefully he can continue to do that as we move forward."
Arthur outrebounded AOC 33-19 as Colton Romine had eight boards.
In the first half neither team led by by more than four until Arthur Okaw Christian closed the half on a 12-2 run. The Knights led 19-15 after a bucket by Adam Day. The Conquering Riders started their run with a a basket by Benny Lee, who had 11 points at half. Oliver Binion tied the game at 20 and after the Knights Austin Romine gave them a 21-19 lead AOC, who made its final five field goal attempts, took the lead on a three-pointer by Lee. Lee followed with a three-point play and Trevor Beachy closed out the scoring in the half with a basket.
The Conquering Riders entered the game 10-2 against IHSA schools with the only losses to Meridian (72-58) and Urbana University High (52-34) AOC competes in the East Okaw Conference and has a 78-74 win over a 19-4 Judah Christian team.
A-L-A-H is to close out its regular season Friday in a Little Okaw Valley Conference Northwest Division home game against Cerro Gordo/Bement. AOC is to play in the ACSI MidAmerica Tournament starting Thursday.