By: Ed Weaver / February 24, 2023 / Photo: The Home Page Network
A Carter Marr heave from the opposite three-point line with time running out gave Warrior Run a 39-38 win over #2 seed Wellsboro in the District IV Class 3A quarterfinals on Thursday, February 23.
With 1.4 seconds remaining Wellsboro had the ball leading 38-36 after a Cooper Wilkins layup and Defender timeout. Once play resumed junior Caden Smith took the baseline where he attempted a long pass to senior Conner Adams. The pass was broken up where Marr picked it up and threw up a prayer that would be answered by the basketball gods.
The shot fell giving Warrior Run the one-point win and leaving the Wellsboro gymnasium in shock for the second consecutive year. Last year Southern Columbia hit a three-quarter court buzzer-beater to end Wellsboro's season.
"The shot didn't get off and its a shame," head coach Steve Adams said. "We threw the ball long and Conner got fouled at that point in time and we didn't get that call, so its a shame when it comes down to how it did but it did come down to that tonight. We had the momentum and we took good time off the clock, knocked down some foul shots. We missed some shots throughout the game, but I'm just really disappointed to see it end that way. These kids deserved a heck of a lot better than what they got at the end of the game."
Early on the Hornets matched Warrior Run shot for shot. Mason Sheesley put the Defenders on the board first then senior Cameron Brought answered, tying it up at 2-2. Trailing 4-2 Adams made a jumper to tie the game up at 4-4 then senior Peyton McClure again knotted the game at 6-all with 2:33 remaining. With under two minutes ago a McClure three-pointer again tied the game up at 9. The Defenders hit one more three and Brought hit a close bucket to close out the quarter, with Warrior Run leading 12-11.
Warrior Run extended their lead slightly over Wellsboro in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Hornets 9-6, to go into the half with a 21-17 lead. Warrior Run got the lead to as much as six points just under the midway point in the quarter before junior Hayes Campbell and McClure made back-to-back baskets to cut the lead down to two before the Defenders pushed the lead back up to 4 late.
Once the second half started the Hornets found themselves trailing by five, 26-21 until a pair of Brought baskets pulled Wellsboro within 26-25. Following a Warrior Run timeout McClure grabbed a rebound and went all the way to the opposite hoop and was fouled on the layup attempt. McClure hit 1-of-2 shots from the foul line, tying the game up at 26-all with 2:20 remaining. The game remained tied until the final seconds as Adams drove and dished off to Campbell for the basket, giving Wellsboro their first lead of the evening, 28-26.
As the fourth started the Hornets looked to be in complete control with three consecutive baskets by Brought, increasing Wellsboro's lead to 34-26. At that point Wellsboro began to chew clock. With 55.7 seconds remaining a pair of Adams foul shots increased Wellsboro's lead to 8, 36-28, but back came the Defenders. With 35.5 seconds left Sheesley hit a three to cut the lead to 36-31. Then with 23.5 seconds to go Ryan Newton hit another three, cutting the lead down to two, 36-34. On the inbound McClure was fouled and went to the line, where he hit two foul shots to extend the lead back to 4. The Defenders burnt 20 seconds off the clock and again cut the lead back to two as Cooper Wilkins was left wide open for a layup.
Brought led all scorers with 18 points, McClure added 10, Adams finished with 6, and Campbell chipped in 4.
Marr and Wilkins were both in double figures for Warrior Run, scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The loss ends the Hornets' season with an 18-7 record (13-3 NTL Large School Division). Warrior Run advances to the semi-finals and will face Troy at a date, time and location to be determined.
"I said before the game that these were the guys that I wanted on my team, and they were on my team, and I love every one of them and that I'm proud of them," Adams concluded.