Moser’s shot with 1.2 seconds left propels Lions over Harlan

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

By John Henson

Contributing Sports Writer

Three weeks after a heartbreaking overtime loss in the All “A” Classic regional semifinals, Pineville gained a little payback at Harlan as Ashton Moser hit a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to send the Mountain Lions to a 77-74 victory in a game that featured plenty of offensive stars on both sides.

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“We had an action we wanted to try to find, but when you have good players you want to let them make plays,” Pineville coach Brad Levy said. “Ashton and Sawyer (Thompson) were in a two-man game, and we wanted one of them to finish.”

Pinevile shot a blazing 67 percent (31 of 46) from the field for the game. The Lions built a nine-point halftime lead by shooting 86 percent (18 of 21) in the first half, including 92 percent (12 of 13) in the first half.

“We had some phenomenal performances. It was a great team win,” Levy said. “We had a very efficient offense, and I’m very proud of our kids. When we had to execute, we did some real good things.”

Junior forward Zander Garrison hit eight of nine shots to finish with 20 points, one behind Moser’s 21-point night. Sawyer Thompson and Wyatt Caldwell added 15 and 10 points, respectively.

The Dragons were led by Kyler McLendon with 31 points. Trent Cole hit three 3-pointers and finished with 18 points, while Dylan Cox added 15 points on five 3-pointers. Nate Montanaro contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Harlan hit 15 of 36 from the 3-point line.

“It’s not every day you win when you give up 15 3-pointers,” Levy said. “Hats off to them. They hit some tough shots.”

“We struggled defensively, but the coach who scheduled three games in four nights must take a lot of the blame,” Akal said. “Our guys tried, but we had a hard-fought game Monday, then Wednesday and then tonight. I think it showed defensively early. They had some energy in the second half, but it caught up to them.”

Cole hit two 3-pointers while McLendon and Cox added one each as Harlan took an 18-15 lead after one quarter despite Garrison hitting four straight shots.

Thompson heated up in the second quarter by hitting four straight shots as the Lions used a 16-4 run to take a 43-34 halftime lead. Moser hit all three of his shots.

Pineville led by nine midway through the third quarter when Harlan went on a 12-2 run sparked by McLendon to take a 60-58 lead heading into the final period.

Cox hit two 3s and Cole and Montanaro added one each as the Dragons led by four with four minutes left. Thompson pulled the Lions even with his jumper in the lane at the 2:13 mark. After McLendon and Thomas traded buckets, McLendon missed to give Pineville a chance to set up for the last shot. Thompson found Moser on the move before launching a 3 in front of the Pineville bench.

McLendon was well off the mark on a desperation 3 after a Harlan timeout with one second to play.