A clutch 3-pointer from Cam Cox and some key rebounds late gave Mt. Ararat a 50-45 win and kept its very slim playoff chances in Class A South alive.

“You’ve seen us in some games where we haven’t realistically had a chance at the end,” Mt. Ararat coach Steve Cox said. “And you haven’t seen us let up a bit.”

After trailing by five at halftime and then by as much as nine, Lewiston (3-13) stormed all the way back to grab a five-point lead and force a Mt. Ararat (4-11) timeout with just over five minutes to play. Right out of it, Cox splashed a trey and trimmed the deficit to two before a quick bucket inside tied the score. Then it was two more treys from Cole Guerin and Cox, and the lead was four for the Eagles.

“A lot of people were feeling down,” Mt. Ararat senior Steven Gerencer said of the timeout. “The best thing to do was to just keep morale up because over the past few games, the reason we’ve lost is because we quit in the fourth quarter. It was everybody on the bench, even those who weren’t playing, were just doing their best to cheer every single other teammate on.”

Gerencer controlled the paint all night for Mt. Ararat and pulled in four key rebounds in the fourth quarter. Lewiston had three separate chances to cut into the lead on the other end in the final minutes, but all bounced off the rim. Two missed free-throws kept the score at 48-45 late, before Guerin sunk two of his own to ice the game.

“They got rebounds,” Lewiston coach Tim Farrar said. “It wasn’t us letting them. They worked hard for them and they scrapped, they made a couple plays. We worked so hard to get the lead back. Two scrappy teams that could probably both ask for better seasons, but both teams played hard tonight. I thought the better team won.”

“I think you saw glimpses of a very good basketball team,” Cox said. “But I think the problem is, we’re starting to get a couple of those veteran, leader players back healthy and they haven’t played at all together since July. Those little things keep that game close. Otherwise, it’s quite a good basketball team.”

Ryan Mello (six rebounds) and Austin Damon (three rebounds) joined Gerencer with clutch boards in the final three minutes, while center Jared Balser scored four of his six points in the fourth. Gerencer also reached the stripe three times and scored seven points.

“He did a nice job for us tonight,” Cox said. “The only thing I can probably attribute it to is his comfort level increased once he got Cameron (Cox) and his classmates that he’s going up through school with all these years, on the court with him. I think their confidence in each other showed.”

Blue Devils back

After sinking a pair of treys to open the game on an 8-2 run, Lewiston went cold and was stuck on those eight points until two minutes into the second frame. Then, late in third, Ibn Khalid warmed up. The junior scored two reverse, under the glass lay-ups before hitting his second 3-pointer of the night to bring the Blue Devils within four.

Desmond Jackson scored seven of his 11 points during the 10-0 run that eventually led to Lewiston’s first lead since the first quarter.

“It started on our defensive end,” Farrar said. “We didn’t take stupid chances, we stayed solid. They moved the ball, but we stayed solid and eventually we got a rebound or a steal from that. Not by taking chances, but by being solid.

“We’re pretty big, but our problem was we had a lot of trouble defending those 3-pointers,” Gerencer said. “Our biggest focus had to have been getting stupid turnovers on offense and definitely, overall, just doing the best at shutting down that big man. The first time we played him, he scored too many on us.”

Jackson and Garrett Poussard each added a trey on the night, but Luke Madore (6-foot-4) was held to six points down low. Khalid finished with a team-best 12 points.

Cox notched 10, Guerin nine and Jake Steinman scored all of his eight points in the second quarter for Mt. Ararat, which will need to beat “Battle of the Bridge” rival Brunswick on Saturday to have any chance at the postseason.

Gerencer doesn’t need a reminder.

“My biggest motivation is to contribute the most to this team so we can win as many games as possible,” Gerencer said. “Because we still have a chance at going to the playoffs and I want to do the most that I can do give everyone else on the team that chance.”


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