WHITE HALL — Head coach Marc Stringer said his White Hall team played “as well defensively as we have all year” against Lake Hamilton on Friday night.
But the Bulldogs couldn’t get the defensive stop they needed at the end of the game.
More specifically, they couldn’t get the rebound they needed.
Lake Hamilton senior Andrew Broadbent hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to down White Hall, 50-48, in the teams’ opener of the inaugural Relyance Bank Classic at White Hall High School.
“I’ve never hit a shot like that before in my life,” said Broadbent, who finished with seven points. “… Being in my last year, it’s pretty big.
“I’m kind of speechless to be honest with you.”
White Hall (3-6) looked like it might escape with a win, but Lake Hamilton made big plays down the stretch.
The Bulldogs led by one point at 46-45 before Quan Gipson scored inside to give the Wolves a one-point lead with about 50 seconds left in the game.
On White Hall’s ensuing possession, Lake Hamilton’s Corey Worley fouled J’Breun Steen with 21.3 seconds remaining. Steen coolly knocked down both free throws to give the Bulldogs a 48-47 lead.
“He did an absolutely wonderful job,” Stringer said of Steen, who finished with nine points. “… At halftime, I told him, ‘You can’t be a 50 percent free throw shooter. You should be close to 100 percent’ And he went out there and hit them both.
“He should be really proud of himself.”
After a White Hall timeout, Worley missed a three-point attempt but Lake Hamilton secured the rebound and Broadbent’s second-chance shot hit nothing but net.
The game looked destined to head to the final quarter tied 30-30, but White Hall’s Malik Corley hit a three-pointer as time expired in the third. Lake Hamilton’s coaching staff disagreed with the call and the Wolves’ assistant coach was called for a technical foul.
Tyler Pirson hit the two free throws, but the Bulldogs couldn’t take advance of the five-point lead as the Wolves went on an 11-1 run to take a 41-37 lead.
“We came out and had two straight turnovers,” Stringer said of the sequence following Pirson’s free throws. “You absolutely can’t have that when you’re trying to run clock with the lead.”
White Hall started off slow offensively, but its defense kept it in the game.
Lake Hamilton led just 13-9 after the first quarter and 20-16 at halftime. The Bulldogs responded by outscoring the Wolves 17-10 in the third quarter.
Pirson led White Hall with a game-high 16 points, including hitting 8 of 10 free throws. Levi Reigstorf and Jason Burks both finished with 10 points to lead Lake Hamilton.
White Hall will face Cabot, which defeated Beebe 53-25 on Friday, in the second day of the classic. The game is set to tip at 3:45 p.m. Saturday.