Heights hit 11 of 13 free throws in the fourth quarter. Nine of those makes came after Western trimmed the lead to a bucket.
“Last week, we had a 16-point lead at Cass in the third, we were up 10 in the fourth against them, but we were 1 of 7 from the line,” Ballenger said of that overtime win. “Maybe we learned something from that. Any time you can win on the road in our conference is big.”
Heights has only one road game left in the league (at Eastern), and four home dates.
Balentine led all scorers with 20 points. Warden and Weaver added nine apiece for the Panthers. A key was that while Warden and Balentine can drive and create, Heights was able to contest shots by the other Panthers and limit their damage. Three other Panthers scored two points each.
“That’s big, that’s big,” Ballenger said. “That’s what we worked on all week was any dribble drives, matching up on [Mo] Townsend, matching up on Weaver, and not letting those off guys beat us. Harp hit some shots the last few weeks. We didn’t let those guys step up.”
Western hit 3 of 17 shots from 3-point land. Heights wasn’t better, connecting on 3 of 18, but Heights had more room for error thanks to a plus-13 difference in rebounding.
“In the first half, our execution was very poor,” Miller said. “We were standing a lot on offense. We were watching Evan and Des try to create things ad we just weren’t playing Western basketball. We came out in the second half and I felt we executed for about 13 1/2 of those 16 minutes. When it came down to it, we didn’t quite execute, Hamilton Heights did and the result was a loss.”
Heights’ two inside starters, O’Laughlin and Garrett Paull, each had 14 points. Paull had 15 rebounds.