Boys Basketball: Late run lifts Jonathan Alder past Shawnee

Shawnee High School junior Zion Crowe prepares to leap for a dunk while being guarded by Jonathan Alder senior Joey Walker during their game on Friday night in Springfield. Crowe scored a game-high 17 points, but the Pioneers won 44-37. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

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Shawnee High School junior Zion Crowe prepares to leap for a dunk while being guarded by Jonathan Alder senior Joey Walker during their game on Friday night in Springfield. Crowe scored a game-high 17 points, but the Pioneers won 44-37. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

SPRINGFIELD — In a battle of Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division unbeatens, the Jonathan Alder High School boys basketball team found a way down the stretch.

The Pioneers scored the final eight points — going 5-for-7 from the free throw line in the final two minutes — to beat Division III sixth-ranked Shawnee 44-37 on Friday night in Springfield.

“The guys played hard,” said Braves coach Chris McGuire. “(Jonathan Alder) just made big plays and big shots when they needed them. When they had open looks, they hit them. I thought we got some good open looks and they just didn’t fall. I felt like they got a lot of loose balls when there were 50/50 balls. Credit to a good team. They execute their stuff, they do their job defensively and force you to make plays. Unfortunately, they made plays and we didn’t down the stretch.”

Braves junior Zion Crowe scored a game-high 17 points and junior R.J. Griffin added 11 for Shawnee (7-3, 3-1), which dropped its second straight game.

Jonathan Alder sophomore Peyton Heiss scored 15 points and senior Taber Headings added 11 as the Pioneers (7-2, 4-0) took sole possession of first-place in the CBC Kenton Trail.

Jonathan Alder took a 26-22 lead at the half, the largest advantage for either team in a back-and-forth first half.

Shawnee grabbed a 33-32 lead on a jumper by Griffin early in the fourth quarter, but Headings countered with a 3-pointer on the Pioneers next possession to reclaim the lead at 35-33.

With three minutes remaining, Shawnee took a 37-36 lead on a bucket by Crowe, but the Braves wouldn’t score again.

Headings hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 remaining to give the Pioneers a lead it would never relinquish. Heiss hit a free throw to give Jonathan Alder a 40-37 lead with 1:30 remaining. Shawnee had a few chances to tie the game, but their 3-point attempts fell short.

Heiss made four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

“Credit to Alder,” McGuire said. “I thought they did a good job controlling the tempo. We need to get that tempo up. They did a good job getting offensive rebounds and 50/50 balls. I’m proud of the boys. They played their guts out. They played hard. We just have to continue to learn from it and do a better job of executing down the stretch against good teams.”

The Pioneers hit seven 3-pointers in the game, including three each from Heiss and Headings. The Braves struggled from behind the arc, hitting two 3-pointers, both of which came in the first half. Shawnee entered the game averaging 5.5 made 3-pointers per game.

“We’ve been shooting the ball well over the course of the year,” McGuire said. “I thought we got good looks and they didn’t fall. That’s part of the way it goes with the game. We’ll continue to get open shots and we’ll continue to practice them and make them. Guys have proved they can make shots. It’s just one of those nights where they didn’t go in for us.”

Shawnee travels to Plain City for the rematch on Feb. 4.

The Braves tough schedule — which includes nonconference games against No. 11 Columbus Bishop Ready and Columbus Bishop Watterson — will hopefully pay dividends later in the season, McGuire said.

“Hopefully the guys learn from (the loss) and it makes them hungry to get better,” McGuire said. “That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to continue to get in the gym and get better each day.”

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