Southwestern rattled. Then Morristown rolled.
Down by 12 points going into the fourth quarter, Morristown outscored the Spartans 25-6 to steal a 55-48 victory despite having two starters out with injuries.
With Cade Mahin (ankle injury) and Mathew Carlton (hand) sidelined, senior Kane Snyder stepped into a starting role Thursday at Southwestern and scored a game-high 17 points to get the Yellow Jackets their second win this season against the Spartans (2-15, 0-4 Mid-Hoosier Conference).
“There was a lot of emotion in that game and to come out on top for how we started and our second quarter … we had a great response toward the end of the first quarter and just kind of fell dead again in the second quarter,” said Morristown head coach Cory Kreiger. “And then came out from halftime and grind, and grind, and grind and had some grit and be on the winning end at the end of it. I am proud of our guys. They had no quit in them. It was a really hard-fought victory.”
Morristown’s two-point second quarter put it on the verge of a knockout. Ben Kahler scored half of his 14 points in the quarter and the Spartans built a 26-14 lead. That 12-point advantage held through the end of the third quarter, 42-30, despite Morristown (3-15, 1-5 MHC) starting to heat up offensively.
Snyder drilled a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the second half to end his team’s 0-for-14 performance from behind the arc in the first half.
Mitchell Clements, held scoreless in the first half, scored seven of his 11 points in the third quarter and the Spartans kept the Yellow Jackets, losers of seven straight coming into the conference game, from gaining ground.
Kellen Crim, who missed his first seven 3s in the game, broke through early in the fourth quarter and the Yellow Jackets started their comeback. Crim’s 3-pointer was followed by a Brayden Keithley 3-pointer and the Yellow Jackets were quickly within six.
Clements pushed the lead to 44-36 with a 15-foot jumper but the Yellow Jackets scored the next nine points to take their first lead of the game with 3:04 to go.
Kahler answered with a baseline drive and score on Southwestern’s next possession. Colin Kieninger scored in the lane at the other end to put Morristown back up again 47-46.
Twelve seconds later Clements scored off a Kahler assist to give the Spartans their final lead.
Crim hit another 3 to start a contentious final minute. The Spartans’ frustration boiled over with an intentional foul followed by three technical fouls called in the game’s final 30 seconds.
Crim sank two intentional foul free throws to make it 52-48. The Morristown freshman was then fouled to stop the clock and he hit another free throw.
The final piece to Morristown’s comeback came on a long entry pass down court that was deflected by Michael Clements but landed right in Kieninger’s hands for an easy layin and a 55-48 lead.
Another technical foul was called on a Southwestern player with two seconds on the clock. Crim missed the first of two free throws with plenty of dissatisfaction building in the gymnasium. The officials then ended the game and walked off the floor with time still on the clock.
Kahler and Carter Snepp each scored 14 points to lead Southwestern, who hosts Knightstown (9-9) Tuesday.
Snyder entered the game averaging 3.8 points per game. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, made 7-of-11 shots from the field and had three rebounds and two steals.
“Kane is a senior for us and kind of played a lot of minutes early on and has earned a little bit bigger role for us this last month and he was huge for us in the second half,” said Kreiger. “He stepped up tonight at the right time.”
Kieninger had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Crim had 12 points and four assists and Keithley scored nine points off the bench.
Morristown returns to action Feb. 16 for its final home contest of the season against Providence Cristo Rey (1-16).
In the junior varsity game Thursday, Southwestern outscored Morristown 14-5 in the fourth quarter to earn a 39-30 victory.
Cecil Newton scored a game-high 14 points to lead Southwestern. James Oliver had nine points.
Keithley, Ruston Kleine and Colton Cavaletto each scored seven points for Morristown.
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