Bryce Yarling raced to the rim for the game-winning shot in the Shelby County Tournament championship game – and missed.
Redemption for the Waldron junior came seconds later when he got a second opportunity and converted to give his Mohawks a 51-50 victory over Triton Central Saturday night -- and its first county tournament title since 2016.
“This is fun. This is unforgettable,” said head coach Beau Scott, in his third season at Waldron. “I am really happy for the community, who are still here celebrating. This is a lot of fun.”
Triton Central junior Isaac Morgan was in the same position to win it when he scored in the lane with 20 seconds left on the clock to give the Tigers a 50-49 lead.
Yarling raced up court with the ball past the Waldron bench and found a path to the basket. The ball rolled off his right hand and then off the rim and into Josiah Blair’s hands.
The senior was fouled and walked to the free throw line at the other end of the court with 8.5 seconds left in regulation. And as the Tigers did much of the game, Blair missed both free throws.
Lucas Mitchell grabbed the rebound and found Yarling near half court. He raced off for the rim once again and converted as the clock ticked under two seconds.
The officials put 1.9 seconds on the clock but the best TC could do was get Blair a half-court shot that missed and the celebration of two county tourney titles in one night was on.
“Bryce had the hot hand and he wanted that last shot,” said Mitchell. “He wanted to be that guy. I believe in my teammates 100% -- every single one of them. So I got the ball to Bryce. Any shot he takes I believe it’s going in.”
Waldron won the girls county tourney title over Triton Central earlier in the evening and the teams became the first in school history to capture county titles on the same night – and it was even sweeter on their home floor.
Yarling finished with a game-high 22 points and added three rebounds and two assists to be named Shelby County Tournament Most Valuable Player.
“I knew there were eight seconds left and I had to get the ball somehow,” said Yarling. “I put on a move, somehow got the ball and the rest just happened.”
Mitchell had 14 points and 10 rebounds and the rest of the starting lineup contributed 15 points to get the win and avenge a 67-47 loss at Triton Central on Dec. 2.
The win meant Waldron took possession of the coveted Victory Bell – the county’s traveling trophy. The Mohawks will have to defend the bell on Jan. 28 against Southwestern – a team it has beaten twice this season, including in Friday’s county tourney semifinal round.
Morgan was outstanding for Triton Central, scoring 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting. He also had five rebounds and two assists.
Blair finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Caleb Miller had eight points and four rebounds.
The Tigers led 8-7 early in the first quarter before the Mohawks closed out the quarter with an 11-2 run.
Waldron pushed the lead to double digits late in the second quarter and led 30-22 at halftime.
Triton Central shot 55% from the field in the third quarter but missed all five free-throw attempts and trailed 38-35 at the break.
The Tigers were 2 of 11 from the charity stripe entering the fourth quarter but still kept pushing the Mohawks, who kept responding.
With the Tigers within two, Waldron senior Caden Sheaffer hit a corner 3-pointer with 5:55 to go to push the lead back to five.
Morgan scored five straight points for TC to cut the lead to 45-44 and Blair hit a free throw with 3:39 left on the clock to tie the game at 45s.
Yarling made two free throws, Waldron was 11 of 12 in the game, for a 47-45 advantage.
Morgan answered on the other end with two free throws and Miller added another with 1:09 left to give Triton Central its first lead since 8-7.
Yarling converted two free throws with 55 seconds left to set up a frenzied finish that saw Yarling potentially hit the game winner, Morgan follow with a potential game winner, then Yarling sealing the deal.
Waldron shot 49% from the field and 92% from the free-throw line.
Triton Central finished at 50% from the field but was 1 of 9 from the 3-point arc (11%) and 7 of 22 from the free throw line (32%) after entering the tournament converting 70% as a team.
“It was bad timing for sure,” said Triton Central coach Kyle Ballard when asked about his team’s struggle from the line. “I thought we did a lot of things well. We took care of the ball. And we had some pretty good looks. We were pretty patient on the offensive end but if you can’t put the ball in the basket from the free throw line … and we couldn’t string stops together when we needed them.”
Triton Central travels to Milan (0-10) Saturday.
Waldron is back in action Saturday when its hosts Class A, No. 9 Jac-Cen-Del (7-2).
Waldron 51, Triton Central 50
TC: Blair 5-12 3-7 13, Crouse 1-3 0-0 2, Miller 3-8 1-4 8, Morgan 9-12 3-5 21, Kemper 1-3 0-1 2, Faust 2-3 0-0 4, Krebs 0-0 0-0 0, Stuckey 0-1 0-4 0. Totals: 21-42 7-22 50.
WA: Mitchell 6-13 2-2 14, Yarling 7-14 7-8 22, Shaw 2-4 0-0 4, Sheaffer 2-3 1-1 6, Becker 2-4 1-1 5, Lindsey 0-1 0-0 0, Jones 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-39 11-12 51.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
TC (6-7) 10 12 13 15 -- 50
WA (7-4) 15 12 8 13 -- 51
Three-point field goals: TC 1-9 (Blair 0-4, Crouse 0-2, Miller 1-1, Kemper 0-1, Faust 0-1), WA 2-10 (Yarling 1-5, Shaw 0-1, Sheaffer 1-2, Becker 0-1, Lindsey 0-1). Rebounds: TC 24 (Blair 9, Crouse 2, Miller 4, Morgan 5, Kemper 1, Faust 3), WA 17 (Mitchell 10, Yarling 3, Becker 3, Lindsey 1), Assists: TC 6 (Blair 1, Crouse 2, Morgan 2, Faust 1), WA 5 (Mitchell 1, Yarling 2, Becker 2). Steals: TC 5 (Crouse 3, Morgan 1, Kemper 1). Blocks: TC 2 (Blair 1, Morgan 1), WA 2 (Mitchell 1, Becker 1). Total fouls: TC 13, WA 17. Turnovers: TC 5, WA 9.