The momentum flipped to Stanton as magically as Abe Larson’s pass flew through the arms of the defense and into Brayan Acuna’s hands for the 3-pointer in a heart-stopping 48-47 win Friday.
Down 39-37 with 5:20 to play, the Mustang junior grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled around the right corner before spotting Acuna open on the other side of the baseline. Larson heaved the dangerous pass through a battlefield of defenders and let his sharpshooter sink the a trey to take a one-point lead.
“It was a little bit of luck,” Larson said with a big smile when asked about his crazy pass. “I saw Brayan on the back side, and I just threw it up. I’m really proud of him. He’s really come a long way, especially for not having a varsity jersey at the beginning. He’s gotten a lot better.”
While Larson and Acuna combined to win that battle, the Mustangs didn’t claim the war until several more minutes and several more battles. As the teams matched each other point for point, junior Parker Krusemark was on fire, hitting back-to-back jumpers to keep the Mustangs alive.
Stanton was down 47-46 with 27 seconds left when the Mustangs pulled ahead for good. They stole the ball under their own hoop and watched Kam Dusatko lay it from the left side to take the lead and send the Mustang faithful to their feet. The steal was textbook Mustang basketball as Krusemark picked off the pass and flicked it to Adam Arens, who then tossed it to Abe Larson. The assist hero of the night then passed the ball behind his head to Dusatko for the easy lay up.
With 21 seconds still remaining, Tri County tried to force the ball inside on its next possession, but Mustang senior Brennan Wragge got a hand on the ball and forced it away from the Wolfpack. Dusatko pulled the ball inside and was fouled with 6.4 seconds to play. Dusatko missed the front end of the 1-and-1, giving the ball back to Tri County, who called a time out with 4.6 seconds left. The Wolfpack put up a hail Mary from half court and came up short to finally allow the Mustangs a chance to breath and celebrate their one-point victory.
“We had some trouble waking up in the first quarter, and that’s how we warmed up,” Mustang coach Cole Beebe said. “We got our poop in a group and were able to show face on who we are as a basketball team.”
Larson led the Mustangs with 13 points, but he was quick to credit the rest of his team, especially Krusemark for finding him when he was open.
“It was Parker who got me most of my shots. He’s the main reason I scored,” Larson said. “I think this game is big for everyone, but especially Kam, who hit the game-winning layup, and Brayan, who scored a lot.”
Beebe said his team played really smart situational basketball and executed the game plan to shut down the Wolfpack’s key scorers. That, he said, gave the team confidence heading into Tuesday night’s subdistrict against Howells-Dodge.
“They know we can come back from a deficit and pull it off,” Beebe said. “They just have to be really focused and keep their head in the game.”
Stanton 9 10 15 14 — 48
Tri-County 10 17 6 14 — 47
Adam Arens 1p, 5p; Abe Larson 13p, 5r, 1s; Brennan Wragge 3p, 1r; Parker Krusemark 6p, 3r, 1s; Kam Dusatko 10p, 4r, 2s; Brayan Acuna 6p, 2r, 1s; Mason Bruggeman 6p, 3r; Owen Vogel 3p.