There’s no place like homecoming.
Especially for a team in need of a victory, such as the Lipan Indians.
The Indians got their first win of the season Saturday, holding off Santo 65-63 in Lipan’s homecoming.
It was also the first game for the Indians in their new gymnasium, which finally opened this season. Construction began in 1999, but it sat unfinished for more than a decade when funding ran out, and was finished after the passing of a $2.5 million bond package.
“Being the first game in our new gym made it all the nicer,” said Lipan coach Cody Chandler, whose team improved to 1-2 after losing at Graford and Tolar to start the season.
“The home crowd was full, and there were a lot on the visitors’ side as well. It was exciting.”
The crowd was treated to a thriller from beginning to end. Lipan led by two (15-13) after the first quarter, and the game was tied at the half (30-30). The Indians appeared to be pulling away from the Wildcats after the third quarter (50-43), but the Wildcats weren’t finished.
Lipan led by six with 30 seconds left in the game when Santo made a pair of free throws to pull within 64-60. Then, after Lipan missed a free throw, the Wildcats hit a 3-pointer and were within a single point (64-63).
Lipan’s Tanner Richardson gave the Indians a two-point cushion with a free throw with four seconds left. Ironically, that would be the final shot of the game.
The Wildcats did not attempt another shot before the final buzzer sounded. Apparently they did not realize how little time remained.
“They could have taken a shot, but didn’t,” said Chandler. “It was kind of strange.”
Trevor Hedeman led Lipan with 16 points, while Colby Clinton added 13.
The Indians hit five shots from 3-point range, while Santo made eight. Lipan had a 12-9 advantage at the free throw line.
“This is one of the better teams they’ve had at Santo in a while,” said Chandler, whose team entered the game ranked 18th in the state in Class A Division II by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
“They’re pretty strong inside and tough for us to match up with.”
The Indians’ losses were at Graford, No. 10 in Class A Division II, and at rival Tolar, a 2A squad. Both of those teams also had a strong inside presence.
“I thought we played well in the first two games, but we played two really good teams,” said Chandler.
“This was a very exciting night. I told the guys to enjoy it and get ready for Tuesday. We’ve got another tough one.”
Always tough Poolville was playing at Lipan last night. This weekend the Indians are in the Santo Tournament and could meet the Wildcats in the semifinals.
Santo 13 17 13 20 – 63
Lipan 15 15 20 15 – 65
Lipan (1-2) scoring – Trevor Hedeman 16, Colby Clinton 13, Blake Williams 11, Joey McFadden 6, Kyle Mercery 6, Jorge Hernandez 6, Tanner Richardson 3, Brady Nelson 2, Hunter Hightower 2.
3-pointers – McFadden 2, Hedeman 1, Williams 1, Hernandez 1.
Free throws – Lipan 12-17, Santo 9-16..