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Mar 2, 2024
Times Observer photo by Steve Younger Eisenhower’s Kyler Black puts in two of his 14 points against Mercer in the District 10 Class 2A third-place game Friday in Edinboro.
EDINBORO — The Eisenhower Knights won a thriller in overtime against Mercer 58-55 on Friday night to advance to the first round of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association Class 2A playoffs.
In a game in which the winner advances and the losing team is finished for the season, the Knights, who were the No. 2 seed in the District 10 2A playoffs, and Mercer, which was the top seed, both teams came out shooting.
Freshman Austin Hanson, who led the Knights with 20 points, scored the first points of the game when he hit a 3-pointer from the corner to give Eisenhower the early lead.
Mercer went on a 7-0 run, but the Knights came back with their own 6-0 run. Both teams traded baskets with the lead going back and forth. Mercer held a two point lead at the end of one quarter, 14-12.
Mercer came out in the second quarter and held the Knights to just 6 points in the frame as they increased their lead to six by halftime, 24-18.
The Knights came out of the break and put the ball in the hands of their shooter and he did not disappoint.
Hanson hit three 3-point shots to pull the Knights to within three points at the end of the third quarter, 38-35.
“Our guys stepped up tonight again and again,” stated Eisenhower head coach Ryan Mangini. “They just battled the entire game.”
The Knights Kyler Black scored underneath the hoop to pull Eisenhower within one at 38-37. Both teams traded baskets before sophomore Derek Guiher hit a 3-pointer to give the Knights their first lead of the quarter 45-44 with 2:14 remaining in the game.
Lindemuth was fouled driving to the hoop, he made one of his two free throws and Kris Bunk scored on a put back under the hoop for the Knights with 14 seconds remaining in the game to give Eisenhower a 48-44 lead.
“I thought our big guys played a nice game tonight,” added Mangini. “They did a nice job on both ends of the court.”
The Knights, careful not to foul, gave up a quick basket to Bubba Palmer to bring the Mustangs to within two points with 11 seconds on the clock.
A Knight turnover gave the Mustangs the ball with 2.3 seconds remaining. Mercer’s Cole Baloaki caught a pass at the baseline and put up a shot that dropped in to tie the game at the buzzer 48-48.
The Knights had baskets by Lindemuth and Black between a 3-pointer by Dae Cunningham to hold a 1-point lead 52-51 with 2:06 remaining. It was all Hanson after that, as the talented freshman was 6 of 8 from the free throw line down the stretch to give the Knights a 58-55 win and advance Eisenhower into the PIAA state playoffs.
“Austin did a really nice job handling their pressure tonight and I itch his shot selection,” stated Mangini.
The Knights were led by Hanson with 20 points while the Mustangs’ Carson Cunningham led all scorers with 23 points.
“We really played a composed game tonight and it paid off,” Mangini said about the game. “Mercer is a talented, well coached team and we knew going into tonight’s game that we had to play a smart game to beat them.”
The Knights will play on Tuesday at a site and time to be determined.
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