CLINTON — Fountain Central’s boys basketball team ended six games away from home and a four-game losing streak with a strong 70-62 WRC win over South Vermillion.
The Mustangs overcame an early deficit, jumped out to a lead on a big third quarter, and then made a living at the free throw line in the last 150 seconds to seal the win and move to 6-5 on the season and 2-1 in the conference.
“It’s been a long road swing,” FC coach Phil Shabi said. “We had a couple close losses, but the guys stayed the course. They have done a good job doing what we asked them to do, We did a good job on the defensive side (tonight) and bottled them up. We also did a good job at the line when they made it a long game in the fourth quarter.”
That long game referred to a never-ending parade to the line in the last two and a half minutes.
The Wildcats, who fall to 3-9 overall and 1-1 in the league, were down nine points and fouled and fouled in an effort to start a comeback.
The Mustangs, who didn’t shoot a free throw in the first half, shot 26 in the fourth quarter alone, making 19, keeping the home squad at arms length.
“We’ve shot a lot of free throws in a couple games and that is because we are aggressive and attack on offense,” Shabi said. “We couldn’t finish the game against Seeger, but tonight we did.”
Shabi’s guys were 22-of-30 from the line for the game.
The visitors, who struggled in the shooting game in a loss at Crawfordsville Friday, fell behind 8-0 to start the game, but righted themselves by the end of the first quarter to trail only 15-14.
The Wildcats hit three treys in the second quarter to pull ahead again, but FC scored five points in the last 34 seconds to tie the game at 30 heading to halftime.
It was all Mustangs in the third quarter, as a 13-4 margin had them ahead. A mini-run in the fourth got them ahead by double-digits, and they cashed in from the line to win.
Five FC players were in double-digits in the scoring ledger, and each player had moments to shine.
Four were starters. Carson Eberly’s was tops with 15 points. The senior also had six steals and four assists.
Will Harmon had 11, as did Cody Linville. Linville also had a team-best seven rebounds.
Andrew Shabi, limited in minutes because of early foul trouble, had 10 points, all in the second half.
Mason Larkin came off the bench to add 12, and the sophomore had an NBA-length three pointer to end the first quarter, giving the Mustangs a huge momentum boost.
“Larkin has been in the dog house a bit,” his coach noted. “It was nice for him to have a big game. We got insane contributions from guys off the bench as we came back from the early deficit and had some foul trouble. It was really good to have the balanced scoring - we have struggled to score these last few games.”
The Mustangs finished 21-of-48 from the field, 6-of-20 from deep and had 14 turnovers. They scored 22 points off of 17 SV turnovers.
The Wildcats were 23-of-55 from the field, 7-of-24 from long range and 9-of-18 from the line. They were led by Lucas Uselman with 18 points and Anthony Garzolini had a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Both teams have plenty of hoops action ahead.
The Wildcats have a four-game road trip of their own coming up, with two next week.
FC gets to unpack the home jerseys for the first time since before Christmas, and they have three next week, all at Dave Sanders Court.
“This was a good win,” Shabi said. “It will give us some momentum as we head into three at home next week.”
Things start with a conference game against Riverton Parke on Tuesday. There is more home action next Friday and Saturday.
The Mustangs won the jv game 53-41. Carter Merryman led the way with 15 points, followed by Koby Wolf with nine.