Caution! The stove is hot in the kitchen, and basketball player Johnathan Stove is red hot on the court.
It was only fitting that Christian Life 6-foot-4 junior forward Stove was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point. Stove made big shots to finish three of the quarters as Christian Life rallied for a 53-52 victory over Southern Lab Friday night at CLA.
Stove hit three free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining for the final margin. Southern Lab had taken a 52-50 lead with 6.9 seconds as senior Deonte Shorts hit two of three free throws.
The Kittens had four fouls to give before CLA (16-5, 3-0 in District 7-1A) was in the bonus. CLA coach Mark Cascio drew up a play that was changed when Southern Lab came out in a man-to-man defense. Stove caught the inbounds pass near halfcourt and took two dribbles. When Stove saw he was about to be fouled, he threw his arms forward in a shooting motion.
“Stove made a heady play,” Cascio said. “I think the officials got it right. He left his feet to shoot a 3-pointer. How about him stepping up to the line and going three-for-three for us. That was huge. Stove is our vocal leader and a tremendous asset for us.”
“I thought we made the foul on the floor,” Southern Lab coach Lonnie Machen said. “We had him trapped on the sideline and the officials said he gathered himself for a shot. It was a tough loss for us. We felt like it was a game taken away from the kids.”
Lab (8-15, 2-1) inbounded from underneath its basket following Stove’s free throws. The Kittens tried to free a player near midcourt to receive the ball, but no one was open and Marquise Ricard’s pass rolled out of bounds untouched. CLA inbounded the ball three times and Lab fouled to end the game.
Stove scored a game-high 17 points and hit buzzer baskets to end the first and second quarters. Stove’s 3-pointer put CLA up 27-26 at halftime. Southern Lab had taken its second lead on a 15-footer by Shorts.
“We try to finish quarters by getting the last shot,” Cascio said. “We want the ball in Stove’s hands. Credit the Southern Lab team for limiting his touches. They are a very athletic and experienced team. We know how good they are. I’m proud of my guys for hanging in at the end and getting it done.”
Ricard scored 16, Shorts 13 and Samuel Forest 10 to pace the Kittens. Ricard was impressive with his ability to get to the basket and finish with power.
Junior guard Malik Harrison added 15 points for CLA. Harrison hit five 3-pointers, including three straight to open the fourth quarter. His third 3-pointer gave CLA a 48-45 lead with 4:09 remaining. Ricard then scored on a follow. R.J. Hertzog hit two free throws with 2:32 remaining to put CLA up 50-47. Forest hit a 3-pointer to knot the score at 50 with 2:09 remaining.
Hertzog added 13 points and hit nine of 10 free throws. CLA hit 13 of 14 from the free-throw line. The Crusaders also made eight 3-pointers to three for Lab.
Ricard scored on a drive and power move as Southern Lab led 41-39 after three quarters. There were five lead changes in the fourth quarter.