COLORADO SPRINGS — In a game where two highly-ranked teams struggled from the charity stripe, it’s fitting that it was decided by free throws with one second left.
David Jabedo drove down to the Sand Creek basket in the closing seconds and drew a blocking foul form Sierra’s Stephan Deedon. The free throws fell and the CHSAANow.com No. 6 Scorpions beat the No. 9 Stallions 61-59 on Friday night.
“I was thinking that it was just another free throw,” Jabedo said. “I knew if I knocked them down the game was over.”
And he called it.
Sierra (3-3 overall) jumped out to a quick 10-2 lead to start the game. A big part of that was on a couple of 3-pointers from C.J. Jennings.
Sand Creek (7-1) was hoping to counter with a heavy dose of D’Shawn Schawrtz, but the Sierra zone defense was able to limit his touches in the first half.
The University of Colorado commit was held to nine points in the first half.
“They got an early lead because they were outrebounding the heck out of us,” Sand Creek coach Rob Hawkins said. “This is what Sierra has been known for.”
Looking to get a spark for both himself and his team, Schwartz attacked the basket and threw down a dunk that snagged the attention of a jam-packed gym at Sierra.
“I told myself that was a game changer,” Schwartz said.
It have just been a game saver. Schwartz and Jennings – friends off the court – went toe to toe in the second half ending with 20 and 21 points respectively.
The difference in the game came at the free throw line where no team particularly excelled, but it was the Stallions who really struggled.
They went 14-28 from the line. A total killer when the final score is separated by only two points.
“They didn’t go in,” Sierra coach Terry Dunn said. “What else can you say? You shoot free throws every day.”
They proved to be essential for both teams in the closing seconds of the game. Down one with 11 seconds left, Jennings was fouled and sent to the line.
He made the front end, but missed the follow-up. That’s when Jabedo was able to get out in transition.
He made both, sending the Sand Creek fans into a frenzy.
For Schawrtz and Jennings, it just means that trashing talking rights will reside at Sand Creek. And Schwartz is looking forward to giving his friend some grief.
“I’m really excited,” Schwartz said. “I get to talk trash to him now. That’s really all I care about right now.”
But it can’t be free throws. Even though Jennings missed one late, Schwartz went 2-6 on the night.
But to play that game in that atmosphere was something that neither player is likely to forget anytime soon.
And for Hawkins, a first-year coach for the Scorpions, this game will set the tone for the rest of this season.
“This is the best high school atmosphere ever,” he said.
And the 11 players on his roster will have a hard time disagreeing with him.