OSSIAN — The Whitko Wildcats, playing in the sectional semi-finals, battled double-digit deficits and poor free throw shooting to survive against Heritage and move on to the final tonight at Norwell High School. Whitko beat the Patriots 66-65 on — ironically — a last second free throw by Logan Irwin.
Whitko mustered just one point in the final four minutes of the first half, while Heritage only netted three, sending the teams into the locker room at halftime with the scoreboard reading 28-25.
Heading into the final eight minutes, the Wildcats led 43-42.
Kolten Krull extended the lead to start the period with two free throws. Patriot Mitch Castleman then converted a traditional 3-point play to tie the game, 45 all.
Following the teams trading baskets, Castleman scored five unanswered points to give Heritage a 52-47 lead with five minutes remaining in the contest. Knapke then scored a bucket and converted the bonus shot to put the Patriots up 56-47.
Logan put two in from the line, and Heritage found the basket.
Castleman scored and Keaton Irwin got inside the paint for two points.
With three minutes left in the game, Heritage led the Wildcats 62-50.
After a field goal by the Patriots, Logan went on a tear, scoring eight unanswered to pull the Wildcats within four points, 64-60. Logan got himself to the stripe for another point, and Stephen Bennett grabbed Irwin’s second shot — a miss — and put it back in; Whitko was down 64-63 with 40 seconds remaining.
With 29.1 seconds remaining, the game was tied at 65.
With both teams in the penalty, a critical mistake by Heritage put Logan on the line for two shots with just 2.7 ticks left on the scoreboard.
He missed the first. Fortunately for Whitko, he did not repeat, making the second shot and giving the team a 66-65 victory.
Logan led the team in scoring with 39 points. Weber finished with 11. Keaton scored five while Stoddard and Stephen Bennett both chipped in four points apiece.
Whitko heads back to Ossian (Norwell) tonight to play in the class 3A, sectional 23 finals.
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