SULLIVAN – Cade Landrus scored first.
More importantly, he scored last.
Tied at 68 in double overtime at Sullivan, Charleston dribbled 40 seconds off the clock before going to its set play for Landrus. He caught a pass at the top of the key, drove, extended for a layup, lifting the ball from his right hand at his hip. It bounced off the glass and in with three seconds left, giving Charleston (8-12, 1-6 Apollo) a 70-68 double-overtime victory over Sullivan in a non-conference game Tuesday night and bowling over a three-game losing streak in the process.
The degree of difficulty was high, but Charleston coach Blain Mayhall trusted his sophomore guard to execute it.
“That’s what we drew up,” Mayhall said. “Cade with a pick-and-pop and he was either going to shoot the three or if he saw an opening, which he did, go to the hole.”
The basket gave Landrus his first points since midway through the fourth quarter. He finished with eight.
“When things come in crunch time, some kids kind of fold under that,” Mayhall said. “Cade’s not that kid. He doesn’t fold under that. He always wants the ball, whether he makes it or not.
“I always trust him to take the shot.”
Landrus’ game-winner capped a close contest in which neither team had a lead larger than three points in the final 27:30, though Charleston trailed for just over three of those minutes. The teams traded baskets and swapped stops, with Charleston often answering immediately after a Sullivan score to maintain a narrow lead.
Caleb Hurst led the Trojans with 22 points. Isaac Miller scored 20 and Corey Spour added 18.
Charleston took a 54-51 lead on Miller’s 3-point play with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter, but went without a field goal for the rest of regulation. Miller’s two free throws with 40 seconds left were the Trojans only points in that span. Sullivan tied the score at 56 on Drew Rogers’ corner 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining.
“Just a miscommunication. I’m not sure how a kid gets that wide open in the corner with no screens,” Mayhall said.
Spour gave Charleston a 63-61 advantage on a layup with about a minute left in the first overtime. Sullivan’s Caden Ellis, as he had done all game, responded with a layup himself. Charleston took the next 45 seconds off the clock, dribbling near halfcourt to hold for the last shot. Spour, on a similar play, took off for the basket again from the free throw line.
This time, though, a Sullivan defender sat in the lane like an unmarked police car, waiting to pop an unsuspecting driver. He slid over and drew a charge on Spour with three seconds left.
The game began at an opposite pace. Midway through the first quarter, which was rapidly devolving into a turtle race, Mayhall issued a one-word entreaty to his team.
“Hustle!” he yelled, loud enough for everyone in the gym to hear.
Spour evidently listened.
He helped Charleston’s offense out of an early funk and fueled it using his defense. He collected five steals in the second quarter alone to go with four points and a pair of assists. Charleston, with Spour as its spark, took a 29-28 halftime lead and shook off a first quarter in which it scored five points in the first 6:35.
“Corey’s a motor. As he goes, we go,” Mayhall said. “We ask a lot out of him. He doesn’t ever come out of the game and we ask him to guard their best player even if he’s outsized, which he was again tonight. If he’s not on the court, we fall apart.”
Right after Sullivan scored the first point of the second half to take a one-point lead, Charleston picked up a loose ball offensive rebound. The ball went to Spour, who zipped a pass to Hurst just inside the foul line. Hurst made the short jumper.
Ellis led Sullivan with 28 points.