XENIA — Described as ‘sick and injured’ by its head coach, Legacy Christian pulled together its best performance of the season when it was needed most.
Scoring seven straight points to close out the game, the Knights put a stop to a hot Yellow Springs team and pulled off a 54-48 upset at home on Tuesday.
“The way that we came together as a team, to come out and knock off number one in the conference right now that was ideal,” LCA head coach Mark Erwin said.
A frantic fourth quarter which Yellow Springs led 37-35 at the start saw five ties and two lead changes over the final eight minutes.
Eli Eyrich pushed the Bulldogs to the lead with a three-point play on a driving layup and ensuing free throw with 1:09 remaining, but it turned out to be the final points of the night for his team.
A scramble on the other end of the floor led to Andrew Riddle scoring a floater for Legacy to retake the lead with 55 seconds left. Several timeout calls and loose ball situations later, Thomas Park and Tressel Miller would combine to make three more free throws to extend the Knights’ lead to four with 16 seconds left.
Yellow Springs on its final possession was unable to make a three-point attempt, nor get a foul to extend the game with reasonable time remaining for a final comeback.
“We all had confidence in the kids if a game comes down to free throws, I feel that’s a pretty good spot for us,” Erwin said. “We have a good free-throw shooting team and some kids that are great under pressure.”
Legacy was without Parker Burke, its point guard and leading scorer, due to a broken ankle for the fourth straight game and had lost its previous three without him by an average 20 points a contest coming into Tuesday.
The Bulldogs after losing its season opener had won 10 straight and put itself in a position to pick up another.
One of the most efficient teams on offense in the MBC, Yellow Springs was held under 50 points for the fourth time this season.
“We knew this moment was coming,” YS head coach Nick Trimbach said. “When you get 10 wins in a row, that bubble is bound to burst in a game that is as competitive as basketball. Our hats off to Legacy, they wanted it more tonight. The loose balls and the extra possessions, they seemed like they were hungrier for those.”
Legacy was led by Brett Carson, who had two career-highs with 21 points on nine field goals. Riddle added 12, while Miller and Skylar Yoder had eight, respectively.
“Yeah he was a man tonight,” Erwin said of Carson. “He did well on both ends of the floor. He really shored up our zone, we got the ball inside to him and he did some really nice things.”
DeAndre Cowen, the leading scorer in the MBC, had 17 points to lead Yellow Springs. Nate Curtis had 10, while Eyrich scored eight.
“I worried the most about them showing all their attention to DeAndre, which they did, and he end up not responding like the leader that I know he can be,” Trimbach said. “Tonight was by far his worst mental performance of the year and I don’t expect to see that again.”
LCA (7-5, 4-1 MBC) played a zone defense most of the game which helped it build an early lead. Carson scored eight first quarter points to also help put the Knights up eight after the first quarter.
Yellow Springs (10-2, 5-1) began the second with a 13-2 run by getting its most consistent success rate attacking the Legacy zone to take its first lead midway through the quarter and hold a 28-25 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs grew its lead to as much as eight in the second half before Legacy began its comeback.
Combs said he was concerned with the team speed of Yellow Springs to move the ball up the floor and wanted to limit it and Cowen’s scoring.
“The Cowen kid is really really good,” he said. “I thought he was really going to be an issue and he ended up with 17 which is an off night for him.”
The game was the third in a row and eighth overall out of 11 Yellow Springs has played on the road this season.
Trimbach said his team has almost gotten used to playing the role of the villain in playing away from home, and it also understands opponents won’t want to lay down despite its successful start.
”We have just been riding a high for a long time and when you win 10 straight games you feel like you are invincible,” he said. “I would rather this happen now than say in the tournament. … We have Dayton Christian on Friday night, so we don’t have a lot of time to lick our wounds.”
The game against Dayton Christian, one of three teams now tied with one-loss in the MBC, will begin a four-game home stand for Yellow Springs. Trimbach said he expects home fans have been gearing up for more chances to cheer its team.
LCA meanwhile now also finds itself in the three-way tie for first and does not want the new opportunity to not be seized.
“This is going to give us some much-needed confidence,” Erwin said. “We still have several big league games coming up and we need to capitalize.”