By Rip Sizemore
North Jefferson News
ONEONTA — Locust Fork played like a team that has missed several days of school and practice, as they squandered an 8-point lead in the final three minutes of the game to fall 37-35 at Oneonta tonight.
After winning the Blount County tournament title in buzzer beating fashion last Saturday, the Hornets (along with most other schools) have been plagued by the ice and snow which kept the team from playing and practicing all week. The Hornets hit only 22 percent of their shots (10-of-45), including only 2-of-18 from 3-point range. But the critical letdown may have been at the free throw line, where they only hit 13-of-26 (50 percent), including some crucial misses late in the game that might have kept the Hornets ahead.
Locust Fork led 21-20 at halftime and 28-26 after three quarters. The Hornets extended the lead to eight points (34-26) before Oneonta scored their first points of the final period on two free throws with 2:38 left, narrowing the Hornet lead to 34-28.
The only Hornet point scored for the remainder of the game was a single free throw with 19 seconds remaining, to give the Hornets 35-33 lead. But the Redskins' Jonathan Butler drew a foul as he made a driving shot, and made the subsequent free throw with 7.3 seconds remaining to give Oneonta a 36-35 lead.
Locust Fork’s last-ditch attempt ended in a turnover with leading to another Oneonta free throw with one second left to seal the win.
Kyle Hornbuckle led all scorers with 16 points for the Hornets while grabbing seven rebounds. Bay Etheredge added eight points. Butler led Oneonta with 11 points, seven of them coming during the late game-winning push.
Oneonta won for only the second time this season, while Locust Fork drops to 10-15 on the campaign.