TERRE HAUTE — Brown County thought it had hit a buzzer-beating shot to force a third overtime. The clock and the referees said otherwise.
Happy Lacy-Connell’s tip-in of Matt Adams’ missed half-court shot came after the buzzer had sounded, letting host West Vigo celebrate a 58-56 victory Saturday in the Class 3A sectional championship tilt.
Brown County and West Vigo were tied 56-56 in the closing seconds of the second overtime when Vikings big man Austin Sappingfield got the ball inside and scored the eventual game-winning bucket with 3.2 seconds to go.
The Eagles finished the season 15-8, a huge step for the program after going only 3-15 a year ago.
The Eagles also added a Western Indiana Conference championship to their season résumé.
“It was a very good year for us,” said Brown County coach Chuck Hutchins. “Being conference champions and making it all the way to the sectional final was big for the program. There is going to be expectations next year that have not been there in a very long time.”
It was heartbreaking for Eagles seniors Garrett Brown, Evan Markley, Matt Adams and Evan Rose, who wanted to go out as sectional champions in their final year on the team.
Markley finished with a team-high 18 points, Adams scored 12 points and Collin Hoskins and Matt Redmond added 11 points apiece.
“Evan (Markley) put up huge numbers for us tonight,” Hutchins said. “He showed a lot of effort and heart and he does that every single day. You can say the same about Matt Adams, too. It was all about effort and heart because this has meant so much to him. He has played so hard all year for us and was a big part of our team.
“Evan Rose, tearing his ACL the day before sectional, was a key part of our team. He started every game for us before going down to injury. With him not competing, all the team wanted to do was win this game for him.”
The Eagles had a 42-31 lead with less than four minutes to go in regulation. The Vikings came charging back by going on a 13-2 scoring run to send the game to overtime at 44-44.
“We could have made some plays at the end to secure the game at the end of regulation and we didn’t,” Hutchins said. “In the overtimes, we did not take any advantages of the opportunities that presented themselves as well.”
Sappingfield gave the Eagles fits inside the most of the game as he used his height to his advantage to score a game-high 31 points.
“He was a load tonight and he is such a good player inside,” Hutchins said of Sappingfield. “Whenever they needed a bucket, he was there for them.”