No doubt, it was Chris Horn’s night to shine on the offensive end Friday with 31 points.
But a layup by his William Chrisman teammate Alex Ball loomed about as large as one basket could in a 14-point game.
After host Van Horn snapped off a 9-0 run in the final minutes of the third quarter, Ball’s buzzer-beating putback after a missed jumper by Eli Henderson tied the score at 36-all heading into the fourth quarter, where Chrisman ran away for a 61-47 non-league road win.
“Going into the fourth quarter you always want to be up,” Horn said. “It gives you a better feeling than being down.”
Though it actually tied the score instead of giving Chrisman the lead, Bears coach Chad Wright echoed the significance of Ball’s hoop.
“We’ve been asking him to the workhorse inside, and he kind of showed that tonight,” said Wright, whose team improved to 7-7. “They had a chance to pull away, and he hit some big shots.”
As did Horn, who shot 50 percent from the field, including 6 of 10 on 3-pointers, and canned all nine of his free throws for a career-high total.
“Ever since I’ve been growing up, I’ve always heard ‘When you’re hot, just keep shooting,’” the 6-foot junior guard said. “I just shot open shots.
“We ran the plays, executed and that opened up shots for me.”
After a first half in which neither team led by more than four, Horn scored the first five points of the third to make it 26-17.
Anthony Winningham’s eight points kept Van Horn (5-7) in it, but the Falcons still trailed 34-27 until Jordan Spencer banked in a shot from the paint and stuck a putback. Isaiah Gotsis knocked down a jumper to make it 34-33, and after Marquis Collins skied for an offensive rebound and dribbled out to the wing, he found himself open and drained a 3-pointer to give the Falcons what turned out to be their last lead.
With Chrisman leading 40-38 in the fourth, Horn calmly swished a top-of-the-key trey to start a 10-0 run. A transition opportunity led to two Horn free throws, and a pair of Van Horn turnovers led to Henderson’s basket and Horn’s final 3-pointer from in front of the Van Horn students.
Wright said Friday marked Horn’s best game, mainly because his shots came within the offensive flow.
“He wasn’t forcing as much,” the first-year coach said. “He let the game come to him.
“I thought we played our best defense for three quarters,” Wright added. “Third quarter we got away from what we were trying to do a little bit. If we can put it together for four quarters, we’ll be good. We tried to be a little more aggressive in the second half.”
Ball finished with 12 points six rebounds for the Bears. Brett Pendergist snared 11 boards, and he and Randall Horn pitched in eight points apiece.
Following Chris Horn’s last long-range bomb Van Horn coach Daniel Bieser called timeout with 4:28 remaining, but his team got no closer. The Falcons shot 4 of 16 from the field and 3 of 9 on free throws in the fourth quarter. Nineteen turnovers, including six in the fourth, also kept Van Horn from fully enjoying its 38-31 rebounding edge.
“Chris Horn got hot, and we lost him on the defensive end,” Bieser said. “He hit a couple shots, and we got a little loose with the ball. Then, we tried to too much on our own and kind of got away from the team concept.”
Winningham’s 19 points and six rebounds led Van Horn, while Gotsis added 18 points. Spencer (7 points) gathered 16 rebounds and Keyauno Roberts eight, but one board the Falcons didn’t get became crucial.
“I was proud of the way the kids fought,” Bieser said. "It could’ve been a different game if we were up two going into the fourth instead of tied, but we missed a box-out.”