Edinburgh overcame a rough night at the foul line to hold off Indianapolis Lutheran 53-49 on Wednesday and win its own holiday tournament for the first time.
The Lancers, who defeated Medora and Hagerstown on Tuesday to reach the Edinburgh Holiday Classic final, trailed only once at 2-0 but could never quite put Lutheran away. Edinburgh went to the free-throw line 22 times but hit only 10, including just 3 of 9 over the final minute of the game.
But despite the woes, the Lancers got what they wanted most from the tourney — a championship win.
“This is the fourth time for the tournament and first time they’ve made it to the championship. I’m proud of them to get to that point,” Edinburgh coach Keith Witty said. “It’s our own tournament, and we feel like we have an advantage in being at home, and we wanted to take advantage of that, and these guys did.”
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Edinburgh (7-4) had a chance to pull away in the second quarter. Twice in the quarter the Lancers built a nine-point lead, the last with 2:43 left in the half on a 3-pointer by Coltan Henderson.
But Edinburgh missed three free throws down the stretch and failed to score, opening the door for Lutheran to come back. Christian Navarra and Max Lowery hit 3s to highlight an 8-0 run that pulled the Saints to within 25-24 at the half.
Edinburgh stayed out front throughout the second half but couldn’t get the knockout punch. After going ahead by 10 (42-32) late in the third on a Christian Cox jumper, the Lancers saw their lead shrink to seven on a Lowery 3 at the end of the quarter.
Both teams went cold for four minutes in the fourth before Darius Bennett hit a nifty layup in the lane and Cox threw down a dunk in transition to put Edinburgh ahead 46-35.
Lutheran (2-5) didn’t back down and kept chipping away, but the Saints simply didn’t have enough time to mount a comeback. Parker Bryant’s free throw with six seconds left put Edinburgh ahead by six and Lutheran’s Clayton Pittman hit a shot at the buzzer for the final margin.
The Lancers may have struggled from the line, but Witty was pleased to see that the woes didn’t affect them in other aspects of the game.
“We struggled from the line and we struggled a little bit last night too, but our defense helped pull us through,” Witty said. “We’ve been preaching to these guys that you win games on the defensive end. You’re going to have games like this where you struggle, but you can come every night defensively.”
Cox scored 15 points and Henderson 14 to lead Edinburgh. Lowery’s 12 points paced Lutheran.
Edinburgh will take the rest of the holiday break off before traveling to West Washington on Jan. 6.