LYONS — After picking up his first two fouls inside a minute of play and remaining scoreless in the first quarter, Damon Hunter heated up the Elbert A. Atwood Gym with 10 of his game high 21 points in the final quarter, including two of his four 3-pointers on the night, to lead the Lions to a 58-52 win over Gananda Wednesday night.
It took nearly three full minutes before the Blue Panthers' Brad Doway broke the ice of the scoreless contest as he hit three of his team-high 18 points on the night with a nice drive and a foul shot, giving Gananda (5-3, 3-4) the 3-0 lead with 5:08 left in the first frame. Lyons (7-1, 6-1) finally got on the scoreboard with 4:25 left in the period when T.J. Smith hit the first of two foul shots. Lyons took a 4-3 lead when senior guard Damien Scott cashed in a 3-pointer with 3:31 left in the first, but the Panthers came clawing back to take the lead, 6-4, about a minute later as Doway nailed his first of two 3-pointers on the night. With 1:34 left, Chris Peay hit for a bucket under the glass, knotting the game at 6-6. After both teams turned the ball over, Jacob Major brought the Gananda fans to their feet with 1.9 left as he drained a a 3-pointer from just left of the top of the key, giving Gananda a 9-6 lead to end the first.
As the second quarter got underway, D.J. Long hit a sweet 6-foot bank shot to bring the Lions to within one point 9-8. But a minute later Doway picked up where Major left off as he hit his second 3-pointer, giving the Panthers a 12-8 lead. Lyons then went on a 5-0 scoring run over the next 1:37 as Scott and Hunter traded buckets for the Lions, taking a 13-12 lead. Gananda refused to give up and fought their way back to a 19-16 lead with 3:22 left before the intermission as Kolby Bean hit his first of two 3-pointers and then hit another with 2:35 left in the half, giving his team their biggest advantage, 22-17.
Lyons cut the deficit to three points when Scott drove the left side for two points and 30 seconds later Long netted another bucket, making it a one-point game, 22-21. Eric Mucci then connected for a pair of free throws for Gananda with55 seconds left, making the score 24-21 . Scott gave Lyons the lead 25-24 with two back to back buckets. Then with 1.7 left in the first half, Doway sent Long to the foul line, giving yhe Lions the one-and-one bonus. Long made the first, but failed to make the bonus, and the Lions took a 26-24 lead into the locker room.
A minute into the third period the Panthers tied the game at 26-26 when Doway drove the lane for a lay-up. Lyons then tied the game at 29-29 when Hunter made an old-fashioned three-point play with a bucket and a foul shot conversion. The two teams were tied again with 3:33 left in the third, and then tied again at 35-35. Gananda finished off the scoring for the third frame when Nathan Teeter hit a basket with 9 seconds left, giving Gananda a 37-35 edge.
Page 2 of 2 - "We didn't shoot the ball very well in the first half," said Lyons coach Zac Young. "Defensively I might of stayed in the zone a little too long. With Damon having two fouls in a minute we had to back off our pressure a little bit. We were able to pressure a little more in the second half and we got a couple easy buckets, not a lot , but a couple. When we move the ball, take good shots and play unselfishly we are a pretty good team, but when we start playing Uno and one-on-one were not that good of a team. I think we did that at times in the third quarter and I let the kids know it. It's pretty basic, you share the ball and move it."
With 7:20 left in the game the Lions seemed to catch fire when Nick Fera fought and scrapped for the ball under the Lyons' basket coming away with his only field goal on the night, but it was good for a 37-37 tie. After a Gananda turnover, Scott fed T.J. Smith a great pass up the middle that put the Lions in the lead for good. Hunter dropped in two more triples on his way to a 10 point fourth quarter contribution and the Lions roared to a 50-43 lead with 2:36 left to play. Lyons extended their lead to 54-45 with 1:06 left in the game when Long the team's only consecutive pair of free throws on the night. The Lions shot 13-for-27 from the foul line on the night (48 percent).
"We thought we matched up well and I thought we did a pretty good job," said Gananda coach Jeff Thompson. "We left Damien (Hunter) open too much, he was scoring consistently outside and we lost him too much. He made shots when he had to make them and we came down and missed free throws. He's an outstanding player, we had him in foul trouble and they still played well as a team. Other guys stepped up for them. D.J. Long did a nice job and Scott did too."
Gananda was paced on the night by Brad Doway with 18 points and Eric Mucci added 9 points, along with Kolby Bean netting two 3-pointers. Damon Hunter led the Lions with 21 points and D.J. Long and Damon Scott each scored 13 points. Long also pulled down 13 rebounds, with Nick Fera grabbing another seven.