Griffith travels to Munster for boys hoops

Griffith coach Grayling Gordon watches his Panthers compete at Munster on Thursday night.

Steve Hanlon, The Times

MUNSTER — Every high school basketball coach in Indiana writes things on the chalkboard before each game.

But how often do teenage players follow the script?

Griffith coach Grayling Gordon wrote three short sentences on the board before Thursday night's game at Times No. 5 Munster.

"Do you want to win?"

"Do you believe you can win?"

"Effort and toughness will tell."

So The Times No. 10 Panthers went out and got behind 19 points and were chasing all night before an unbelievable comeback in the fourth quarter. That effort game Griffith a 58-56 win.

"I wanted to win more than they did," Griffith junior Tim Lawson said.

The play he was talking about occurred in the last 80 seconds of the game. With a two-point lead the Mustangs' Tyler Zabrecky drove to the basket and went up for a shot. Lawson came out of nowhere, blocked the attempt, saved the ball and recovered.

He then went coast to coast, making the layup and getting to the free-throw line, where his free throw gave his team a 55-54 lead with 1:14 left.

"Tim Lawson was a beast," Gordon said after his Panthers won their first game at Munster in a very long time.

Even Griffith's state finalist team lost by a point inside the fieldhouse in Munster.

"This win means a lot," said Lawson, who led his team with 15 points, along with Oshawn Lee. "We wanted to win so bad and it was in our nature to do it."

The Panthers (10-8) went on a 17-2 run at the end of the third quarter to get it close, but the Mustangs (13-5) took the lead out to nine at the start of the fourth.

"But our kids never quit," Gordon said. "We play defense at Griffith and we wore them down."

The Mustangs had four turnovers in the last three minutes that led to points for Griffith. A frustrated Munster coach, Mike Hackett, did not have much to say after the loss.

"Give all the credit to Griffith's players and their coaching staff," Hackett said. "It was a gritty performance by them. They made the plays they needed to make to win the ball game."

Munster's Jevon Morris led the way with 17 points while Zabrecky and Josh Davis scored nine.

Griffith has now won seven of eight games after a 1-5 start to the season.

"We took the ball to the basket in the second half which opened things up for our shooters on the perimeter," Lawson said. "We wanted to attack them and get their legs tired.

"We got the momentum on our side and finished the game off."

Jake Dye scored 10 points for the Panthers.

The Mustangs led 31-18 at halftime, as they gave the Panthers a dose of their own medicine.

Munster's team defense held Griffith to 5 of 16 shooting in the first 16 minutes of play. Griffith was also 7 of 12 from the free-throw line.

Zabrecky, Morris and Josh Davis all hit a 3 in the first half while the Panthers were 1 of 5 from beyond the arc.

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Sports reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.