PRAIRIE RHONDE – The Crowley Gents were on the verge of possibly their most disappointing loss of the season Thursday.
After squandering a 12-point fourth quarter lead and watching the host Northwest Raiders hit the front end of a 1-and-1 to go up 63-61 in the final seconds, the Gents basically needed a miracle to pull out a victory.
Fortunately, that’s exactly what they got.
Trailing by two with just 2.3 seconds remaining, the Gents inbounded the ball near midcourt following a timeout and the rest, as they say, was a story-book ending.
Unable to find an open man streaking to the goal, Danny Malbrough got the ball to Charles Onezine, who was at the timeline.
With two defenders hovering over him and time running out, Onezine spun around and launched a shot that kissed the glass and found the bottom of the net, giving the Gents a pulsating 64-63 victory.
“The funny thing is, he practices those shots during practice a lot,” said CHS coach Derrick Boone of Onezine. “He’s always working on long turnaround jumpers, from halfcourt and the timeline and it worked out for us tonight.”
Onezine’s shot was even more remarkable considering he had two of Northwest’s tallest defenders on him at the time.
“He worked enough to get free and create space to get the shot off,” said Boone. “The guys on him had at least four or five inches on him. He did a good job of creating space and getting the shot off.
“That was a big shot for him and our team.”
Onezine’s heroics bailed the Gents out of a disastrous fourth quarter in which his team scored just 11 points; that after the Gents broke the game open in the third quarter with a 23-point outburst.
Trailing 30-25 at the break, the Gents came out in the third frame and went on a tear, forcing countless turnovers and getting 11 points from senior guard Danny Malbrough to stake a 53-42 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“Coming out of halftime, we made the proper adjustments and we scored 25 points,” said Boone. “We picked up the intensity on defense and that’s where our points came from. We know we can’t shoot our way back into games so we have to get down and play good old fashion defense.”
The fourth quarter was a different story, however.
The Gents hit a free throw early in the fourth to go up by 12 (54-42) before Northwest went on a 14-1 run to take a 56-55 advantage with 3:23 remaining.
“We took some ill advised shots and made some bad decisions down the floor there in the fourth quarter,” said Boone. “We took some low percentage shots instead of attacking the basket. We let them hang around and the momentum started swinging their way.”
The lead changed hands four times in the final two minutes before Onezine’s game-winner.
Danny Malbrough scored six points in the fourth quarter and finished the night with a game-high 23 points.
Andre Mills followed with 10 points, Jesse Harmon added nine and Onezine had seven.
Also contributing were Damon Malbrough with six points, John Davis with three and Marcus Williams, Jeremy Thomas and Leroy Washington each had two.
Kenneth Hicks and Diante Lewis paced Northwest with 19 and 12 points, respectively.
The Gents are hoping the victory will help propel them into the second and most important half of the season that begins Thursday when they take on North Central in the first round of the Northwest Holiday Classic.
“This was a big win for us and our confidence,” said Boone. “We know what we can do and what we can accomplish, but that’s all talk. We have to do it by winning. This was a good victory and, hopefully, we can build off this. Hopefully this game here will start us on the run that we need.”