PLANO – Seneca was in control for nearly the whole game Monday night. The shot that allowed it to win at the buzzer was anything but.
A Ben Barnett 3-pointer as time expired more than offset a Josh Bondurant basket – which had given Yorkville its first lead seconds earlier – and gave Seneca a 55-53 win and a fifth-place finish at the 51st annual Plano Christmas Classic.
“The whole time [Seneca’s Carter Gallick] was coming down [the floor], it looked like he was kind of getting trapped, so I didn’t realize he was going to get all the way down and I would still have time,” Barnett said. “I knew I had to get it out quick. It wasn’t even a real shot. It was kind of a throw-up there. I knew I had to beat the clock.”
Down 51-45 with 1:30 to play, the Foxes halved their deficit with a Kyle Domark 3-pointer, and after Barnett made one free throw for the Irish, Yorkville’s Dakota Gette made another 3 to bring Yorkville within a point with 48 seconds to play.
Twelve seconds later, Barnett was called for traveling. The Foxes possessed the ball for 30 seconds before Bondurant hit a jumper to put them ahead, but Barnett more than made up for his mistake after that.
“You can’t say enough about the shot, but everybody executed what we wanted to do there at the end,” Seneca coach Russell Witte said. “We told [Gallick] he had enough time to get the length of the floor, and he did.”
Seneca led from a Brad Wyss layup that directly followed the opening tip-off until Bondurant’s basket. The Fighting Irish had leads of 17-11 after the first quarter, 32-19 after the second and 39-32 after the third. Wyss helped keep them ahead with a career-high 15 points, with Alex Bott scoring 11 and Alex Applebee 10.
“I like the direction that we’re moving in,” Witte said. “Three-and-one, playing the two 4A schools, a 3A [Mendota] that beat us and then a good Newark team, and to play like we have, I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”