FRANKTON — Elwood head coach Landon Carroll devised a nearly fool-proof game plan, and the Panthers executed it with extreme efficiency Friday night leading to their biggest victory of the season.
Tracey Ganow scored underneath the basket with 2.6 seconds remaining, and Elwood upset Class 2A No. 3 Frankton 58-56 at the Eagles Nest.
"It was pretty daggone good," Carroll said in a hallway outside the visiting locker room. "As far as practicing something and executing it, that's by far the best we have done all year."
The Panthers (7-7, 2-3 Central Indiana Conference) had just eight players active for the contest, and just seven saw time on the court. Four of them scored in double figures — led by Dakin Updegraff and Jared Bourff with 16 points each — and the other three keyed the defensive effort against Frankton star Aaron Korn.
The senior all-star candidate scored a game-high 22 points but was held to just seven in the second half. Jordan Arehart, Brett Vinson and Austyn Poor rotated into the game at regular intervals to keep fresh legs running at Korn.
"Those three had every bit as much as everybody else in this win," Carroll said. "They were the key to every defensive adjustment we made."
Korn, of course, still found a way to make a game-changing play.
With 20 seconds left, he sank a 3-pointer for just his third field goal of the second half and tied the game at 56-56. Elwood had no timeouts remaining and was forced to move the ball up court quickly against the Frankton press.
Bourff found Ganow under the basket for the game-winning points, and the Eagles (11-2, 3-1 CIC) quickly called timeout to regroup.
Updegraff knocked the ensuing inbounds pass away, and the game appeared to be over as Arehart threw the ball into the air in celebration. But his heave hit a rafter in the ceiling, and officials put .4 of a second back on the clock.
Austin Compton threw a 3-point prayer toward the rim, but it wasn't close. And the Panthers' celebration began again.
Ganow — who finished with 12 points — gave Elwood a 56-53 lead on a layup with less than a minute remaining before Korn answered with a 3-pointer to tie the game.
The Panthers opened the game with a 12-2 run and used a 9-0 spurt in the second quarter to take a 37-33 lead into the halftime break.
But Frankton turned up the defensive pressure in the third period. Isaac Stuckey — making a spot start in place of injured Jordan Reeves — scored six of his 15 points to put the Eagles in front 39-37.
Elwood's first points of the second half came with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by London Leavell — who finished with 14 points. But the Panthers still found a way to stay close and trailed just 44-43 entering the final period.
Bourff put Elwood back in front with a 3-pointer to make it 48-47 with 4:05 remaining. The Panthers pushed the lead to 54-49 on a pair of free throws by Leavell with 1:04 to play.
But Frankton answered quickly with two free throws from Austin Compton and a tip-in by Korn after a steal on the inbounds play, leading to Ganow's late-game heroics.
"Everybody out there can be surprised," Carroll said, echoing his halftime speech to his team. "That's fine. But nobody in here should be surprised if we stay true to what we talked about all week."