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By LARRY GOFFINET
BOONVILLE—In a zone. Unconscious.
All the clichés used to describe hot basketball shooters applied to Dacota Schaad as he scored 30 points to lead Perry Central to its second consecutive basketball sectional championship Monday.
Schaad hit 11 of 13 from the field, including 8 of 10 from three-point range, as the Commodores beat Mater Dei 67-64 for the title.
He had plenty of help, though.
Andrew Huber added 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists and hit three clutch free throws in the last 17 seconds after uncharacteristically struggling at the line earlier in the game.
Austin LeClere, the shortest frontline player on either team at 5-foot-9, grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds as the Commodores edged the Wildcats 24-23 on the boards.
He also had a team-high six assists.
No wonder Schaad said, “I credit it all to my team. Dillon (Hubert) and Austin played awesome in the first round and they were zoning on them tonight, so it opened it up for me.”
But he also admitted, “I was just in a zone tonight. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
Seven of the eight players who saw action for Perry Central in the sectional are seniors, and Schaad noted, “We’ve been doing this since the fifth grade, with everybody working as a team.”
Not that Monday’s win was easy.
Oh, it looked like it might be when the Commodores jumped to a 12-4 lead as they hit their first five shots, including three-pointers by Hubert and Schaad.
But Mater Dei battled back to take a 50-42 lead on Jacob Stauber’s post-up shot and free throw with 0:57 left in the third quarter.
Teammate Matt Martin had hit his sixth three-point basket of the game seconds before that.
Perry Central wasn’t panicking, though.
“I thought if we got a score before the end of the quarter we’d be in good shape,” said Perry Central Coach Matt Carter. “We got a score (on a drive by Huber) and then Dacota made a steal (and layup just before the buzzer) and momentum was with us.”
Huber hit a three-pointer and 1 of 2 free throws in the first 1:07 of the fourth quarter to tie the score 50-50.
Schaad hit his eighth three-pointer to put the Commodores ahead for good, 58-55, with five minutes left.
They led by just two points with 17 seconds left when Huber went to the line for two shots. A 73.9 percent free-throw shooter before Monday, he was just 3 for 9 in this game at that point.
He made both this time, though, to increase Perry Central’s lead to four.
“After I shot a few, I was confident I could make them,” he said. “You can adjust on every shot.
“Some of (the earlier ones) felt good but just weren’t falling.”
“His release to me didn’t look that bad,” agreed Carter. “He wasn’t afraid to go get the ball late even though he’d missed some and he knew he was going to get fouled. And he hit some big ones.”
After Will LaRue hit two free throws for Mater Dei, Huber hit 1 of 2 at the line with 3.6 seconds left to put Perry Central up three.
Mater Dei called two timeouts to try to set up a tying three-pointer. But after a Perry Central deflection the Wildcats threw the ball out of bounds with six-tenths of a second left.
Martin and Stauber led the 13-10 Wildcats with 22 points apiece. Stauber grabbed eight rebounds.
Perry Central, 18-5, will play Linton-Stockton in the first game of the Southridge regional Saturday at 10 a.m.