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CRESTWOOD – Friday afternoon North Oldham seemed destined for a spot in the seventh-place game of the eight-team John Fendley Classic.
The Mustangs, who’d lost 69-60 to Eastern Thursday in the first game of South Oldham’s tournament, trailed South Warren 35-20 midway through the third quarter Friday.
But junior guard Jon Jon Henry capped off a steady comeback with a game-winning jumper to give North a 52-51 win over the Spartans. The Mustangs (5-6) beat Ryle 70-62 Saturday afternoon in the fifth-place game.
It changes the momentum,” senior guard Trevor Burton said of North’s 2-0 finish to the tournament. “It’s always good to get wins, especially in tournaments like these, when you’re supposed to be having fun. It’s good to finally get a couple of wins.”
Henry and Trevor Burton’s younger brother, junior guard Chris Burton, willed the Mustangs to the win Friday.
South Warren, a team North lost to 63-61 Dec. 21 in Bowling Green, controlled the first two-and-a-half quarters Friday, including limiting the Mustangs to 18 points in the first half.
“We were down 35-20 and it felt like we were down a thousand,” coach Chris Stobaugh said. “But we just weren’t making perimeter shots and that’s what they were making us shoot.
“I just kept calling timeouts and telling our guys to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’ll get back in it, somehow, some way.”
North started chipping away. A basket from Trevor Burton, a Henry 3-point play, and a score and two free throws from senior center Adam Klingeman cut the deficit to 42-37.
“We started executing better,” Henry said. “None of our shots were falling in the first quarter, then we started hitting shots and we got our confidence up.”
The Spartans put the lead back to seven at 47-40, but North’s full-court pressure tired a slower South Warren team down the stretch, causing some turnovers.
A Henry baseline layup and Henry jumper cut the deficit to 47-44 with 1:08 to play.
Spartan guard Jacob Smiley hit two free throws to push the lead back to five, but Chris Burton answered with a 3-pointer to trim the margin to 49-47.
South Warren’s Bryan Cummings hit two free throws with 32 seconds left, making the score 51-47. Chris Burton answered with another 3-pointer, this one a corner triple to cut the lead to 51-50.
“The shot Chris hit in the corner right before (Henry’s shot) was just as big,” Stobaugh said of Chris Burton, who finished with 10 points. “He’s instrumental because he’s really good defensively on the ball and he’s shooting the ball well from the perimeter. We needed him just as much as we needed any of our starters.”
Up 51-50 with 20 seconds left, the last thing the Spartans could afford to do was turn the ball over. But that’s exactly what they did, getting called for a walk while trying to break North’s press.
That gave the Mustangs final possession. Henry caught a pass, rose up and sank the game winning shot with just more than a second left on the clock.
“He’s just a good player,” Chris Burton said of Henry. “And all good players want to take shots like that.”
Saturday’s game was less dramatic. North led Ryle 50-33 after three quarters and hit free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
“I thought we played probably our best game of the year,” Stobaugh said.
North will host Iroquois at 7:30 p.m. Saturday before playing at Jeffersontown at 7:30 Monday night.
The Mustangs’ experience at the Fendley Classic will pay dividends over the coming weeks, Stobaugh said.
“After the new year we have a bunch of games back-to-back-to-back,” Stobaugh said. “We put a lot on our guys in terms of preparation and knowing what the other team’s going to do and expecting our guys to defend what they do.
“So I think that’s good that we had three days in a row to play a team and not have as much time to prepare.”
North Oldham – 9, 9, 10, 24 – 52
South Warren – 16, 10, 13, 12 – 51
North Oldham – Henry 17, T. Burton 13, C. Burton 10, Klingeman 7, Powell 3, Cundiff 2
South Warren – McDaniel 18, Bybee 9, Smiley 5, Stacker 5, Cummings 4, Gumm 4, Buchanan 2, Hicks 2, Logsdon 2
Ryle – 6, 17, 10, 29 – 62
North Oldham – 15, 14, 21, 20 – 70
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