PADUCAH — Last night at McCracken County, the Calloway County boys’ basketball team proved they can hang in with the best of them.
With under three minutes left to play, the Lakers were tied with the Mustangs 59-59 after Cade Butler completed a drive with the foul and converted on the free throw attempt. The two teams traded free throw attempts, with Jackson Sivills scoring his last six points from the charity stripe and putting the game on ice for a Mustangs win 65-60.
To say the Lakers were impressive would be an understatement. They went toe-to-toe with a team currently ranked eighth in the state and they did it as a team.
“Our entire team , I’m happy with the effort, but this is not a moral victory for us because we gave the ball game away and that’s on me as a coach,” head coach Brad Cleaver said. “We learned tonight. It was a good test for us, but not the biggest game of the week.”
Headed to halftime, the Lakers were down 35-29 and looked a little out of sorts on the offensive end. That all changed in the third quarter and a large part of the turnaround was Butler. He helped spur a 14-2 run for the Lakers to close the third quarter. He scored all 14 points in the closing minutes of the third and his last-second shot at the buzzer put the Lakers down by just one.
“I started to get more into attack mode and started trying to get my own shots,” Butler said. “Coach Cleaver talks to me all the time about trying to get my own shots, so I really focused on trying to get to the basket and that lead to me making a couple of key three’s.”
“It was just in the flow of the game, I don’t know. It was just a really clutch shot to end the third quarter that gave us a bunch of momentum leading into the fourth.”
Cleaver said the emphasis in the second half was on getting Butler going because they know how explosive he can be.
“We want to get Butler as many looks as possible,” Cleaver said. “He’s a good player. He’s worked so hard over the summer and the kid can play. It’s hard not to fall in love with him when you watch him play as hard as he plays.”
With 30 seconds to play, Butler was once again behind the arc with the ball in his hands. The Lakers trailed by three and Butler pump faked and slid to his right. He rose up and buried the shot to tie the game, but a whistle was blown and the call was traveling on Butler. So the Mustangs survived and went to the free throw line to ice it away.
“Whenever I shot faked I drug my left foot, whenever I was just trying to slide over to my right,” Butler said. “So I did travel, I was just hoping they didn’t call it.”
The mistake didn’t cost the Lakers, but Cleaver said he is anxious to see the film and find the areas that did cost them.
“There were a lot of things I think we will be able to watch on video and be able to tighten up and improve,” Cleaver said. It’s our third game of the season and it’s our first true test of the season and we needed this. This was a great game. I was looking forward to coming in here to see how our kids respond. I think a lot of folks wanted to see as well. I think they understand that Calloway is for real.”
Butler finished with 23 points, Chandler Steele had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Kade Mize scored 12 points. Sivills finished with 22 for the Mustangs. The Lakers play Murray High in Crosstown Classic action on Friday night.