Posted: Saturday, 23 February 2013 12:31AM

Crane knocks off Billings for district title




In Dale Lamberth’s mind, you can credit Crane’s second district championship in three seasons to the maturation of Zach Chastain.

The sophomore delivered in a big way Friday night, draining a late 3-pointer to send the Pirates to the Class 2 state tournament after a 72-68 district finals win over defending champion Billings.

GAME PHOTOS
 
"He matured tonight," said Lamberth, Crane’s head coach. "He came to me and said he wanted to run a play, he ran it and got a shot at the top of the key. He made a big shot.

"The next time down in a timeout, he calls the defense and says, 'This is what we want to run, let's stay with it.' Zach Chastain gets all the credit for tonight's win coming down the stretch."

With Crane trailing 68-66, Chastain came off a screen on the right wing and pulled up from the top of the key for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining.

Brady Chastain, the cousin of Zach Chastain, would miss a running mid-range jumper on Billings’ next possession.

Crane got the rebound and Jordan Bowling hit two free throws to put the Pirates up 71-68 with 5.1 seconds remaining.

In-bounding underneath the Crane basket, Billings threw the ball past the halfcourt line to Chad Yeokum. Crane fouled Yeokum with 3.1 seconds remaining, but it was ruled a non-shooting foul.

Yeokum went to the line for two shots and missed the first attempt. His second try rimmed out and went out of bounds off Billings. Time would eventually run out on the Wildcats, as Crane returned to the Class 2 tournament for the first time since it won the title in 2011.

Billings won the Class 2 state title last season.

"I told the guys we better go and win the whole thing now," Lamberth said. "The SWCL has won the last two years (at state), so it's going to be a tough task.

"I can't really talk right now. I'm just blessed to be in this moment. I'm so proud of my guys."

Crane led by double digits early in the fourth quarter before Billings’ staged a big comeback. The Wildcats ripped off a 10-2 run in little over one minute to get within 55-53 with 6:11 remaining.

"When they made that run, that's when we got rattled," said Lamberth, going back to Crane’s 84-53 loss at Billings in the regular season. "As when we played them the first time, we got rattled. Their pressure bothered us a little bit."

Billings took its first lead (65-64) since the first half on Brady Chastain’s stepback 3-pointer with just over two minutes left.

Austin Essick’s layup put Billings (22-5 overall) up 67-66 with one minute to go. He then made one of two free throws before Zach Chastain’s trey put Crane up for good.

Crane (22-5 overall) endured a three-game losing streak from late December into January. Lamberth said around that period he met with Zach Chastain and gave him the reins to the team.

“I just told him that he’s gotta lead us this time,” Lamberth said. “You’ll lead us for the next few years, might as well start now. I think it took some pressure off our seniors. It opened up the game for everybody. He’s grown up so much.”

Jordan Bowling led Crane with 24 points and Zach Chastain scored 16. Austin Essick scored a game-high 29 points but was 2-for-9 at the free throw line.

Crane, minus senior starter Cole Walden who suffered a season-ending injury Monday night, will face either Miller or Pierce City at sectionals on Wednesday night. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at Republic High School.

Crane 72, Billings 68
Crane 14 22 14 22 --- 72
Billings 19 14 10 25 --- 68
 
Crane – Jordan Bowling 24, Zach Chastain 16, Clay Stumpff 14, Jake Sowell 12, Bailey Moore 6
Billings – Austin Essick 29, Brady Chastain 16, Chad Yeokum 13, Dawson Meyer 6, Steven Driscoll 4

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Springfield Central Bulldogs


Catch the best photos from the 2013-14 Central Bulldogs.

Pictures: Lasers vs Kastles


The Springfield Lasers hosted the Washington Kastles for the World Team Tennis title match.

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Springfield Catholic Irish


Catch the best photos from the 2013-14 Irish athletic year.
Videos
O-Zone Opinion
Mohawk Chronicles: Oklahoma the right choice for Dorial Green-Beckham
Dorial Green-Beckham is now an Oklahoma Sooner. If you're scratching your head right now, you're not alone. Yes, DGB will have to sit out the entire 2014 season, something that he wouldn't have had to do had he transferred to a FCS or D-2, but is...
Read More
Mohawk Chronicles: Ozark Conference 7v7 Football recap
For the third summer in a row Kickapoo hosted the Ozark Conference 7v7 Tournament. Here is a recap from the 3rd annual event. The Champs are here For the first time in the 3-year history of the Ozark Conference 7-on-7 Tournament someone...
Read More
The future is now for local soccer
We’re graduating a great crop of senior soccer players this spring. Anywhere from 15-25 will not only contend for all-state honors once the season is over, but also keep playing in college next school year. So, who replaces some of those top...
Read More
Most Viewed