Mack's 3 lifts Prospect at Stevenson

By Bill Pemstein
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 12/17/2016 10:42 PM

It's time to replay the final seconds of Saturday night's nonconference basketball match at Stevenson. It was that good.

Patriots guard Willie Herenton had the ball in his hands as the clock ticked down in the final minute.

"I was supposed to get the ball to Justin Smith," Herenton said. "But I just hit the shot instead."

Herenton, the game-high scorer with 19 points, had given unbeaten Stevenson a 46-44 lead with 1.2 seconds to play. The referees came together and put exactly 2 seconds on the clock.

What happened next was clearly stunning.

Prospect senior guard Frankie Mack took a dribble from midcourt and, to the dismay of the home crowd, landed a swish. The half-court shot hit the target, and Prospect stunned Stevenson 47-46.

"They set a screen for me," Mack said. "And I just threw it up. I knew it was going in. It was easily the biggest shot of my career."

Prospect coach John Camardella drew up the play for the miracle ending.

"I told him to take your best shot," Camardella said. "And don't be short. I'm really proud of our team. This is big. This is why we play a tough schedule."

Stevenson coach Pat Ambrose wasn't exactly thrilled with the decision to add a little time to the clock.

"I think it gave them a little more confidence," Ambrose said. "We also gave him a clean look. He's a good player."

Prospect (7-3) jumped to a 9-2 lead early on a 3-pointer from Michael Ritchie (8 points, 9 rebounds).

"They got a lot of offensive rebounds," Ambrose said.

Herenton led Stevenson's offense, scoring 11 of its first 13 points. Then it was Smith's time for Stevenson (7-1). Held scoreless in the first quarter, the Indiana-bound senior scored 8 points in a row in the second quarter, and the Patriots led 28-24 at halftime.

Smith finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds and also had 3 hammering blocks. He also played tough defense on Prospect forward Matt Szuba, who didn't score but grabbed 9 rebounds.

"Sometimes, Matt gets a little pass-happy," Camardella said.

A three-point play from Herenton gave the Patriots a 31-24 lead as the third quarter kicked off. A pair of 3-pointers from Prospect guard David Swedura (14 points) gave the Knights a 35-34 lead late in the third.

Ritchie popped in a 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter. The Prospect lead hit four with two Mack free throws.

"I thought both teams struggled on offense," Camardella said. "And we had some uncharacteristic turnovers."

Smith's inside basket gave the Patriots a lead in the final two minutes. That was prior to Herenton's tough shot and Mack's even-tougher shot that ended the game.

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