FRANKFORT — “We have so many clutch players on this team.” Fountain Central’s Will Harmon couldn’t be more spot on with that statement. Saturday at the Class A Regional 27 at Frankfort the No.2 ranked Fountain Central Mustangs battled the Liberty Christian Lions for the right to play in the semi-state. Fountain Central had never won a regional title, or even a regional game in school history. Well that was until Saturday as FC came from behind in the fourth quarter to defeat the Lions in a an absolute thriller 54-52.
Fast forward to the fourth quarter where a 15-4 third saw the Lions take a 42-34 lead into the final eight minutes. The Mustangs who have been in wars all season long knew they still had time to save their season. They kept chipping away at the lead and with 1:20 left senior Luke Foxworthy buried a big time three to cut the lead to just one at 48-47. After a pair of Kobe Watson free-throws to make it 50-47 with 1:17 left, Mason Larkin answered right back with a bucket. Another Watson score for the Lions made it 52-49 with just 30 seconds to go.
Will Harmon being the savvy player that he is got his defender to bite on a pump fake and was fouled on three pointer. The junior who was shooting 77% from the foul line on the year, calmly stepped up to drill all three to even the score at 52 with 16.1 left. Trying to race down the court, Eric Troutman for the Lions lost the ball and who else but Harmon fell on it as in the fight for the ball Troutman fouled Harmon with just 6.1 left. Once again Harmon stepped up to the line and drilled both to give FC a 54-52 lead. With one final chance Watson’s shot was sent back by Larkin who delivered the game-sealing, Regional Championship winning block for the Mustangs who continue their magical journey.
“Our kids know that if there is still time on the clock, there’s still work we can do,” Mustang coach Greg Dean said. “Our defense got stops when we needed them to, then we just were patient on offense to find the shot that we wanted. I couldn’t be more proud of this group once again.”
Isaac Gayler, who has been playing his best basketball of the season for FC, led the way again with 16 points. Larkin added 14, and Foxworthy nine. Harmon was held to just a single field-goal but drilled those five consecutive free-throws to give him seven. Koby Wolf added four and Brayden Prickett and Owen Acton both scored two.
Liberty Christian’s Ethan Troutman led all scorers with 27 points.
Larkin who ended the game with five big blocks noted how while his team was down, they never thought about any other outcome than cutting down the nets once again.
“This win means everything to us,” he said. “The fourth quarter played a little slow with them holding the ball and us having to come from behind. “At the end there they thought they could sneak one by me at the end, but I guess I appeared out of nowhere and that block really felt good. I want everyone to know we still aren’t satisfied. Semi-state is now our next goal and we want that school record for wins. We’re not going to stop.”
As Larkin eluded, with the win Fountain Central officially has tied the most wins in school history with 23 as they improve to 23-4 on the year. Dean who has transformed this Fountain Central program in just his second year has his team making more and more history with each step.
“This group of kids deserves all of this success,” he said. “Tying and now going for the school record in wins wasn’t really one of their goals at the beginning of the year, but along with all of the other goals that we set out for ourselves that’s just come right along. I love our kids and they’ve earned it.”
Another aspect of the game that FC had to overcome was they physical nature of the game, especially in the third quarter. The physicality of the game saw Foxworthy foul out while Harmon battled foul trouble all game an ended with four. With that many different players were asked to step up and seven different Mustangs found the scoring column.
“That’s what makes us so hard to beat,” Harmon said of the team-wide contributions. “We can make big shots, we can big stops on defense and we know that when we need something done, we can do it. It felt like god blesses us when we needed it most and I knew that if I got to the line late, that I could win the game. I’m just glad everything happened the way it did and we’re regional champions.”
Lastly Dean took the chance to compliment his three leaders in Harmon, Larkin an Gayler as all three played a very pivotal role in this history making win.
“Mason probably played the best defense I’ve seen him play all year,” Dean said of th e 6’10 senior. “He and Ike both really picked their spots well and didn’t force it on offense. Then Will battled foul trouble and for him to come back in after sitting for awhile and knock down those free-throws was huge.”
On Sunday afternoon the Mustangs also learned their semi-state opponent and destination. They’ll travel to Lafayette Jeff High School to take on 13-12 Southwood in game one of the semi-state semi-finals on Saturday. Tip off will be at 10 am. The semi-state championship game will be back at Lafayette Jeff that night at 7:30 with FC, if they win, to take on the winner between 20-7 Marquette Catholic and 17-9 Kouts.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here