Lofton’s big shot lifts PCA

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 20, 2002

[11/20/02]It may have been the most difficult layup on a four-on-none fast break that Chip Lofton will ever have to convert.

With the final seconds quickly ticking away against Deer Creek Tuesday night, Lofton took a bounce pass from Ryan Hoben, calmly took one step, and put the layup off the glass and in with 9 seconds to play for what proved to be the winning points in Porters Chapel Academy’s 50-48 victory.

“I knew I had to make it, and just make sure I didn’t travel,” said Lofton, who finished with five points, four rebounds and three assists. “This first district win is something big, especially since people were picking (Deer Creek) to win the championship. Just to prove to everybody that Porters Chapel can hang with the top of the league.”

Joseph Ivey had a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds for PCA (2-1, 1-0 Conference 5-A), Hoben added 13 points and eight rebounds, and Michael Warren had six points and seven rebounds off the bench.

Hunter McIntyre had 18 points and Chris Welch added 13 points and five steals for Deer Creek (2-1, 0-1), which has only seven players on its roster and wore down in the second half.

“We ran out of gas,” Deer Creek coach Lee Hazelwood said. “We’ve only got five high school boys … We don’t have any depth, and it caught up to us.”

Despite PCA’s advantage in regards to depth, it was Deer Creek that had the lead for most of the game. The Warriors hit 6 of 9 shots from the field in the first quarter and took a 14-6 lead, while PCA struggled to a 3-for-11 start.

Deer Creek answered every PCA run until the fourth quarter, and the Eagles rarely got closer than five points.

Ivey hit back-to-back short jumpers to bring PCA to within a point, 38-37, early in the fourth quarter before Deer Creek answered with a 6-0 run to push the lead back to 44-37.

This time, however, PCA was finally able to answer with a big run of its own.

Lofton converted a three-point play with 4:30 remaining in the game, and Ivey hit a shot on PCA’s next possession to cut it to 44-42. About a minute later, Hoben hit a 10-foot floater to give PCA a 46-45 lead, their first since it was 2-0 in the opening minutes.

“We just got our heads together at halftime. We started making smart passes and got easy looks,” Lofton said.

Ivey hit another basket to make it 48-45, but Deer Creek converted several chances at the free throw line down the stretch to tie the game at 48-48 with 21.1 seconds left.

After Welch missed a short jumper for Deer Creek, Hoben pulled down the long rebound in the right corner and started the break up the court. The Eagles had an easy four-on-none, and Lofton put the layup in to give PCA a 50-48 lead.

Deer Creek called timeout with 7.6 seconds to play and had one last chance to win, but Carlisle Clarke’s 3-pointer bounced off the rim as time expired.

(G) Deer Creek 53, PCA 46

Porters Chapel watched its passes go out of bounds and its shots clang off the rim in the first half, then saw a remarkable winning streak come to an end in the second.

Deer Creek’s Heather Harber came off the bench to score all of her team-high 12 points in the second half and the Lady Warriors (6-1, 1-0) put together a decisive 9-3 run in the fourth quarter to hand PCA its first conference loss in five years.

PCA had won 56 straight regular-season conference games, a streak that dated back to 1997. Deer Creek beat PCA earlier this season, but it was in a tournament and didn’t count toward the conference standings.

“I’m not going to let this put our heads down,” said PCA senior Brady Willis, who had 10 points and five rebounds. “We’ve got a good team and can go far, so I’m not even going to let it get to me.”

Brittany Willis led the Lady Eagles with 15 points and seven rebounds, Annie Beaugh had 11 points, and Brittany White had eight steals as PCA played solid defense but struggled on the offensive end of the floor.

PCA (6-4, 0-1) had 16 turnovers and shot a dismal 20 percent from the field in the first half including a 2-for-15 shooting effort in the second quarter.

“We came out here nervous and were rushing things,” Willis said. “We were so excited and pumped up for this game. We calmed down, but we were still rushing. We rushed the whole game.”

PCA’s players wore wristbands bearing the name of Eric Smith, a 16-year-old cancer victim who died last week. Brady Willis said the Lady Eagles were dedicating their season to his memory.

“We wanted to wear them, and we wanted to dedicate this game and our season to him because he really meant a lot to us,” Brady Willis said.