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By LARRY GOFFINET
EVANSVILLE—Center Tyler Walsh scored 28 points, including the tying free throw in regulation, as Mater Dei edged Perry Central 57-56 in double overtime in boys basketball Saturday.
The game was close all the way, featuring 16 lead changes.
Perry Central built a 28-24 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter. But the Wildcats answered with a 9-0 run capped by a short left-handed hook shot by the right-handed Walsh.
Perry Central took a 44-43 lead on a driving shot by Tanner Cassidy with two minutes left in regulation.
Walsh hit 1 of 2 free throws with 1:11 left to tie the score, and neither team scored again in regulation.
Perry Central took a 47-46 lead on a three-pointer by Dacota Schaad with two minutes left in the first overtime.
Mater Dei replied with a driving basket by Will LaRue and a free throw by Jacob Stauber to build a two-point lead. But Cassidy scored on his own rebound with 0:21 left in the period to force a second overtime.
Mater Dei scored the first four points of the second overtime on a back cut by LaRue and an inside basket by Weston Sheridan, both on assists by Walsh.
Perry Central’s Dillon Hubert made a three-point play on an inside basket and free throw with 2:37 left. But Walsh matched that with a spin move in the lane and free throw 12 seconds later.
Cassidy scored two inside baskets—one off a steal—sandwiched around Walsh’s hitting 1 of 2 free throws to leave Mater Dei with a one-point lead with 0:35 left.
Cassidy forced a turnover with 0:23 left and shot a three-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds. The shot was blocked and he fell to the floor, but no foul was called.
Did Perry Central Coach Matt Carter think Cassidy was fouled on the play?
“It was on the other side of the floor from us, but it looked like he was,” he said.
Walsh was fouled with 1.9 seconds left. He missed the first free throw and then missed the second one intentionally so that Perry Central, which was out of timeouts, would not be able to set up a play for a good shot.
Cassidy led Perry Central with 21 points, including 10 in the final four minutes of regulation and the two overtimes. He hit 10 of 17 from the field, including 9 of 12 from two-point range.
Nearly every team statistic was close. Mater Dei edged Perry Central in field-goal shooting 48.9 percent to 45.7 percent and rebounds 29-26 but Perry Central had a 12-13 edge in turnovers and a 55.6 percent to 52.9 percent edge in free-throw shooting.
This was the third time in four games this season, though, that the Commodores have hit less than 56 percent of their free throws even though they have basically the same players who hit nearly 80 percent at the line two years ago.
“We shoot the same amount of free throws (in practice) that we always have,” said Carter, at a loss to explain the decline.
Perry Central played man-to-man defense most of the time while Mater Dei used a 2-3 zone nearly the whole game. Both also pressed throughout.
“They stayed in that 2-3 and were pretty active,” said Carter. “We didn’t get the ball in the teeth of that defense often enough.”
Cassidy grabbed 10 rebounds for Perry Central. Derek Thomas added six rebounds, five steals and four assists.
Walsh, listed at 6-foot-6, had 12 rebounds for Mater Dei. He hit 11 of 17 from the field, with all his baskets coming from within 7 feet of the goal.
Perry Central switched among three defenders—Colten Hedinger, Hubert and Cassidy—on him.
“We tried to run a second defender at him and we forced a couple of tough shots,” said Carter. “But other times we were late (with the help).
“When he catches it, he’s aggressive. He’s definitely tough to handle. He’s probably as good a big guy as we’ll face all year.”
Mater Dei star guard Will LaRue was held to six points on 3 of 12 field-goal shooting. He scored just two in regulation.
“We did a good job on their perimeter players,” said Carter.
Perry Central slipped to 3-1 while Mater Dei improved to 2-2.
The Commodores will host Springs Valley Friday at 7 p.m.
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Perry Central won the JV game 39-37 as Michael Schwartz scored 15 points and Alton Cummings nine.
Hubert had six points and eight rebounds in two quarters. Nathan Schwartz added six points and four steals.