By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Savannah watched a six-point, first quarter lead shrink to a one-point lead at halftime, and then suddenly, they were down seven with less than 2:30 to play.
Coach Nick Kemerling called timeout, knowing his boys had one more real shot at getting back in it.
"We used that (timeout) to calm them down," Kemerling said. "I thought we had done some dumb things. We had a couple of offensive fouls, we weren't keeping our composure."
Savannah (4-6) regained their composure and stormed back with a 9-0 run that ended with senior Wes Darnell draining a go-ahead, corner three with about three seconds remaining to give the Savages a 32-30 win over Oak Park on Tuesday at the Cardinal Classic at Benton High School in St. Joseph.
"Just saw an open shot," Darnell said after scoring a team-high 13 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
Took it, and luckily I made it."
Kemerling admits - that last shot wasn't drawn up beforehand.
"Wes made a great play," Kemerling said. "(Quay) Jeter did a great job of getting us into that. Wes didn't have the game he wanted the first three quarters at all, but I think that's what makes him a great player. He didn't get down on myself. He had a great last 2-2.5 minutes, and it ended with that shot. And it was a contested shot."
The Savages scored 11 points in the first quarter, but only scored nine in the second and third quarters combined.
Oak Park (3-3) used a 19-9 run to take a 25-20 lead entering the fourth quarter and then went up seven, 30-23, with 2:28 left when Kemerling called timeout for Savannah.
The Savages also got a break at the foul line - from the other team. Oak Park was a dismal 7-of-20 from the charity stripe, including 1-of-8 over the final eight minutes.
With a team that has only three seniors, Kemerling believes Tuesday's game was an overall great learning experience.
"There's a lot of new kids on this roster that didn't play varsity last year," he said. "They're pretty tough kids. They compete and I do think they're improving every week."'
Savannah is onto something. They've won four of their last five games after an 0-5 start. The Savages will face St. Pius X (3-7) in Thursday's semifinal at 8:30 p.m.
"We have to string some good practices together," Kemerling said. "Mainly, they just have to play off each other. Darnell, Jeter and (Caden) Nigh, who's a senior but a new varsity player, those guys are doing a nice job o setting the tone for the younger kids. We just have to keep that up."
Savannah 32 - 11, 3, 6, 12
Oak Park 30 - 6, 7, 12, 5
Savannah scoring - Wes Darnell - 13, Quay Jeter - 11, Heisman LaFave - 3, Caden Nigh - 3 Ethan Dudeck - 2.
Oak Park scoring - Winston Allen - 17, Westin Hughes - 5, Cornelius Jones 4, Ethan Willmann - 3, Ty Clemens - 1.
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