By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
HANCEVILLE — Seth Lancaster was, by his own admission, extremely nervous as he stepped up to the free-throw line with just 4.1 seconds left in Fairview's ninth-grade semifinal against Holly Pond.
Tied at 38 apiece, the freshman had a chance to play the hero and send his team to the championship game of the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
Nothing but net.
Lancaster sank his free throw, completing an improbable three-point play to lift the Aggies to a thrilling 39-38 victory on Wednesday afternoon.
The ninth-grader said his first option wasn't to score on the winning sequence.
"I was going to pass it to my buddy in the corner," he said. "But, the guy went to cover him, so I went to the lane and tried to score. I didn't think I was going to get hit from behind, but I am glad I did."
After a Landon Walker layup put the Broncos up by two, the Aggies were left with just mere seconds to make a play before time expired.
The Broncos' Dawson Foust nearly came up with a steal, but the ball ended up in Lancaster's hands with the Aggies sporting a 3-on-1 advantage.
Left with a quick decision, Lancaster decided to take it the basket on his own, hitting a fallaway layup, while also drawing the shooting foul.
From there, it was just a matter of making the attempt. Easier said than done.
"I was bad nervous," Lancaster said. "I've never had to make a shot like that before. Once I did, I was happy."
Fairview led the entire first half, backed by Caleb Chambers' seven first-quarter — and game — points. Holly Pond stayed close, however, trimming the deficit to four heading into intermission.
The Broncos took their first lead midway through the third on a Foust 3-pointer. The Aggies responded with vigor, though, closing the quarter on an 11-4 run to take a six-point lead with one quarter to play.
The Aggies had a chance to put the Broncos away late in the fourth. However, three front-end misses on 1-and-1's allowed Holly Pond to remain in the game.
Fairview outlasted its county foe in the end, though, thanks to a little magic from Lancaster.
Austin Fletcher led the way for Fairview with eight points, while Lancaster, Dylan Smith, Ethan Waddell and Austin Harris all tallied five apiece. Ashton Guthrie tossed in two and Noah Walker, one.
The Aggies will move on to face top-seeded West Point on Saturday at 1 p.m. for a chance at the county title.
Foust scored 12 points for the Broncos, while Michael Lambert added 10. Other Holly Pond contributors included Dylan Basenburg, five points; Tyler Townson, four; Parker Smith, three; Levi Strong and Walker, two each; and Jed Hardman, one.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.