Kharri Dailey saved his biggest shot for last.
The 5-5 Alpena Community College freshman guard juked a pair of Schoolcraft defenders and sank an off-balance shot with eight seconds left to give the Lumberjacks a 74-72 win over the Ocelots on Wednesday at Park Arena.
“I was just trying to get him off his feet. He (the defender) was way bigger than me and when I shot it, I was looking at the basket, hoping it was going in,” Dailey said. “It felt pretty good though.”
Dailey’s game-winning shot snapped a five-game losing streak for the ACC men (4-11, 1-4 MCCAA Eastern) and gave the Lumberjacks their first win of 2013.
Getting the win was far from easy though. A pair of free throws by Dailey gave ACC a 72-68 lead with 1:28 left, but the Ocelots (3-11, 0-5 MCCAA Eastern) answered with a triple from Jonathan Campbell and a free throw from Mathew King with 37 seconds left, which knotted the game at 72.
Up to that point, the game was a back-and-forth affair that saw the two sides nearly match each other in several categories. Schoolcraft shot 44 percent from the field to ACC’s 43 percent. Schoolcraft committed 20 turnovers to ACC’s 17. Schoolcraft edged ACC in rebounds 39-36.
The game was tied 34-34 at the half and tied four more times in the second half. The largest lead for either team was six points.
Fortunately for the Lumberjacks, they turned in a solid team effort to pull out a win and had the ball at the end for the final shot. Dailey paced ACC with 19 points, William Gates Jr. added 16 points and Logan Wickert chipped in with 10. Shane Hentkowski and Sean Berryman each added nine points.
“I’m blessed. I’m very fortunate that I have those kind of kids. It was a team effort, very much a team effort,” ACC head coach Frank McCourt said.
Schoolcraft led by five points with 11:34 to go in the game, but ACC answered back with an 8-0 run, punctuated by two buckets from Jake Strong that gave the Lumberjacks a 58-55 lead with 9:35 remaining.
From there the largest lead for either side was four points after Schoolcraft held a 68-64 advantage with 4:35 to play.
Richmond Jackson led the Ocelots with 25 points, King scored 15 and Terrance Coles added 10.
The two sides more or less matched each other shot for shot in the first half before the Lumberjacks took a 28-22 lead with 5:52 to go after a small run that ended with a trey from Dailey.
“Kharri, I trust him with everything. Kharri is just a great player. He’s probably the quickest guard in the East,” McCourt said of Dailey.
The Ocelots answered back with a 12-0 run to take a 34-28 lead with 1:31 left in the half.
It was Dailey who came up big again for the Lumberjacks, scoring twice in the final 42 seconds, including sinking a buzzer-beater to tie the game at 34 at intermission.
“This gives us momentum and this gives us confidence, so this is a big win,” Dailey said. “We all played as a team, just passing the ball and getting each other easy shots, ball movement, everything. We brought it together.”
Aside from Dailey, Gates also had a big game for ACC, knocking down four triples. The biggest one came with 2:47 left to give the Lumberjacks a 70-68 lead.
ACC will try to keep the momentum going on Saturday at Henry Ford. McCourt was excited to see his team get the monkey off its back after a solid team performance after he told his players they needed a win.
“We told them that losing was not an option,” McCourt said. “We told them in practice yesterday and before the game today we had to beat this team.”
ALPENA (74): Gates Jr. 5 2-3 16; Smith 3 1-1 7; Berryman 2 5-6 9; Dailey 8 2-2 19; Hentkowski 3 2-2 9; Wickert 5 0-0 10; Strong 2 0-0 4.
SCHOOLCRAFT (72): 9 5-9 25; Coles 5 0-0 10; King 3 9-11 15; Campbell 2 1-2 6; Laye 3 0-0 6; Bettner 2 0-0 4; Redmond 3 0-0 6.