WHITE HALL — White Hall has almost three weeks to think about its 40-36 home loss to Cabot in the inaugural Relyance Bank Classic on Saturday.
The majority of the time spent between the end of the game and the team’s 5A-South conference opener with Hope will likely be spent lamenting its terrible showing at the free-throw line.
“Free throws absolutely killed us,” said head coach Marc Stringer. “If we don’t go 6 for 21 (28.6 percent), then we win that game.
“That one stat killed us. I’m disappointed, because we played really well.
“It’s a real heartbreaker.”
Even with the poor free throw shooting, White Hall (3-7) had a chance to win the game late.
Jake McNulty hit a mid-range jumper with 49 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a 37-36 lead.
Cabot’s Garrett Rowe missed a shot, but his teammate Hunter Southerland got the offensive rebound and putback score. Southerland, who finished with a game-high 12 points, was fouled on the play but missed the free throw keeping the Panthers’ advantage at one point.
With the ball and a chance to take the lead, White Hall’s J’Breun Steen was called for traveling with 4 seconds left. After Cabot inbounded the ball, an intentional foul was called on McNulty and Michael Smith hit 1 of 2 at the line.
After using two timeouts, White Hall had the ball out of bounds on its own end trailing 38-36 with 1.6 seconds remaining.
Miscommunication by the Bulldogs caused Malik Corley’s inbounds pass to bounce out of bounds. After being fouled, Southerland stepped to the line — and did what White Hall struggled to do all night — and knocked down a pair of game-sealing free throws.
“The last two nights we’ve had turnovers at the worst possible times,” Stringer said. “I mean we were up three to start the fourth and we turned it over on our first possession.
“When you’ve got the lead and you’re trying to run some clock, you can’t have a turnover then.”
Early on it looked like the game might turn into a three-point shootout.
The only field goals White Hall hit in the first quarter were three-pointers — two by Jordan Lawson and one by Tyler Pirson. Cabot’s Hunter York also knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the opening quarter as the teams went into the second knotted at 10-10.
York connected on another three in the second quarter as the Panthers took a 21-17 lead into halftime.
The Bulldogs clamped down in the third quarter as they held the Panthers to just six points in the period. Even with the limited point production, Cabot looked set to enter the fourth quarter with the lead.
White Hall had other ideas, though. A 5-0 run by the Bulldogs gave them a 30-27 lead heading into final quarter.
White Hall extended the run to 9-0, but Cabot responded with eight straight points, including two three-pointers by Rowe to take a 35-34 lead with just over a minute remaining.
“I kind of feel we’re exactly where we thought we should be,” said Stringer of his team finishing the nonconference portion of the schedule. “We’ve been within five points of every game but one.
“We just need to learn how to finish a game when we’re in that situation.”
Lake Hamilton 50, Beebe 34
Lake Hamilton finished the Relyance Bank Classic at 2-0, while Beebe finished at 0-2. Lake Hamilton beat White Hall on Friday, and Beebe lost to Cabot.