By Brandon Judeh
With 1.9 seconds left Lucas Hitchcock, a Jefferson sophomore, stepped to the free-throw line with his team trailing Campbell Memorial by a point.
The crowd was loud and hostile, two factors that can usually rattle even the most composed high school basketball player.
Not Hitchcock, who nailed both free throws, then came up with a steal on the ensuing inbounds pass to seal a 48-47 victory Friday night.
“The feeling was indescribable,” Hitchcock said. “I knew I had to cancel out all of the noise and hit the free throws if we were going to win.”
After making the first, Hitchcock said he only felt more pressure.
“After the first one rolled in, I thought to myself, ‘oh man, now I have to make this one.’”
After making the second to break the tie, Hitchcock stole the inbounds pass, but traveled to give the Red Devils one last shot with 0.5 seconds left.
George Billiris’s shot rattled off the back of the rim and the Falcons (3-6, 1-3 AAC) stormed the court to congratulate their new hero.
“This feeling I have right now is phenomenal. When I got that steal I felt like a cornerback going up to get the game-clinching interception,” said Hitchcock, who also plays football for Jefferson.
Campbell missed shot just 10 of 30 at the foul line and missed 14 free throws in the final quarter.
“All those misses did us in,” said Campbell coach Mike Szenborn. “We did what we were suppose to do to get to the free- throw line, but we didn’t knock them down and that was the difference in the game.”
Campbell (2-8, 0-3 AAC) dominated the pace of the fourth quarter for the first seven minutes, as the Red Devils raced up and down the court, causing turnovers and using 11 steals to score fast-break points.
“It’s a hard pill to swallow because we put ourselves in position to win, but we have a young team and we are progressively getting better with each game,” Szenborn said.
David Chase, Jefferson’s 6-foot-7 center, dominated the first quarter as he scored his team’s first eight points.
“The game plan all year has been to get the offense flowing and I was able to step up today, which was nice because I have been in a rut, so it felt good,” Chase said.
Chase finished with a double-double — 16 points and 10 boards — and Hitchcock chipped in with nine points.
Billiris scored a team high 13-points for the Red Devils and Jaylel’ll Shorter recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Jeremy Vasquez scored eight points for Campbell Memorial.