It was a poor shooting night for South Pointe's Cory Kessler, but when it counted, he was on the money.
Kessler canned a 3-pointer with two seconds left to give South Pointe a thrilling come-from-behind win, 53-52, at home against Clover.
The shooting guard normally comes off the bench for Stallions coach Dwayne Hartsoe. But he was thrust into the starting lineup last night.
Kessler missed a couple of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of a Region 3-AAAA nail-biter. Then, trailing by two, 52-50, with 13 seconds remaining, Hartsoe drew up a play during a timeout.
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"We were looking for a high-ball screen. We wanted to drive to the basket then kick out to one of our two best shooters (Kessler or Mike Douglas)," Hartsoe explained. "It never did materialize, but we got the shot we wanted."
Kessler was in the starting lineup as Stephon Gilmore was in Texas for a high school football all-star game. Aaron Davidson missed another game with a fallen arch he suffered in a holiday basketball tournament. Devin Wherry is still out with a football injury.
"I saw Tre (Erby) drive to the middle, then he passed to me. I just put it up, hoped and prayed it went in," Kessler said.
He said he didn't get his feet set, resulting in his misses earlier in the quarter.
"I wanted to look down at my feet before I let it go. Coach (Hartsoe) always tells me to be sure I'm behind the 3-point line before I shoot. I was just praying it went in."
Erby finished with game highs in points (16) and rebounds (10).
Chris Lindsay led Clover with 13 points.
The loss is a tough one for Clover (7-5, 1-3). The Blue Eagles were playing South Pointe without three starters, and they were leading late in the game.
Clover broke a 12-12 tie in the second quarter and led the rest of the game until Kessler's back-breaker.
The Blue Eagles led by eight, 46-38, after Lindsay's third 3-pointer of the evening.
Hartsoe felt lucky to come away with the win.
"Clover played extremely well. They shot the ball well, especially in the first half," Hartsoe said.
"Everyday it's something else with this team. We are a much different team without Gilmore. We lose our leading scorer and our quarterback on the floor. He can give us 20 points every night.
"Having him out to start the season with an injury may have helped this team."
South Pointe moves to 9-5 and 3-1 in the region.
Gilmore will return to the lineup next week. Davidson will be able to practice Monday and Wherry is almost ready.