ST. JOHN — It was a special night for late-shooting players at the Lake Central Sectional.
On his 16th birthday, Nick Anderson gave Lake Central the present of the season with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Munster.
Meanwhile, after hitting a two for Morton, Kristofer Mingo talked about practicing taking the last-second shot.
"I do," the Morton senior said. "In the gym, I count down, 5-4-3-2 and I shoot."
On Friday, in the sectional semifinals, the clock was there counting down the season the Governors. Mingo hit his shot with 2.3 seconds left, and propelled Morton to the championship game on Saturday against Lake Central. Morton beat E.C. Central 46-45 by outscoring the Cardinals 19-4 in the fourth quarter. L.C. beat Munster, 50-47, to join the Govs in the finals.
Anderson's shot came from the corner, his third 3 of the game, on a play designed for Derek Hobbs. But Hobbs wasn't open, and Anderson was in the right spot.
"I knew as soon as it left my fingertips that it would go in," Anderson said.
The Indians never trailed, and held off Munster's late rally try.
The Mustangs tied the game with 30 seconds remaining and were trying to not allow L.C. to get a shot off.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," L.C. coach Dave Milausnic said. "The difference between now and six weeks ago is that when Munster pulled within two, we didn't have to tell our team to keep their heads up, it was our guys on the team telling everyone 'we're still up.' The kids are starting to realize they can do it."
The Indians lost leading scorer Justin Graciano with 2:40 left in the game as he picked up his fifth foul. Graciano finished with seven points as the Indians were led by Keon Sellers' 12.
"We know that (Graciano is) a big part of our team," Anderson said. "We had to stick together and I'm glad we pulled it out.
"Having the sectional at our house is really special right now. WE really want to cut down those nets."
Jevon Morris had 17 points to pace Munster and Josh Davis hit 12, including two free throws to pull within 47-45 of Lake Central with 57 seconds remaining. Tyler Zabrecky tied it with a bucket with 30 seconds remaining.
In the first game, with the capacity Lake Central student section filing in, the L.C. fans quickly became Governors fans, cheering on Mingo as he hit a 3 with 42 seconds left in the game. The shot pulled Morton within a point of taking its first lead since the first quarter.
E.C. Central dominated in the second and third quarters, taking a lead as big as 13 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Led by five points each from Mingo, Kionne Layne and Khyre Hines in the fourth, Morton found its magic.
"Our coaches kept telling us to keep our heads in the game," Mingo said. "We were getting a lot of open shots. We didn't want to lose our minds right there."
Mingo had three points entering the fourth and finished with eight. Layne led with 16.
Josh Morgan had 16 for E.C. Central, which went scoreless for the first 7:10 of the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Shammon Williams, who finished with 12 points, helped the Cardinals hold the lead at 43-39 with 50.1 seconds left in the game.
Mingo hit his 3, then the Govs picked up a bucket from Layne. E.C. regained the lead with 12.2 seconds remaining on a 2-pointer from Morgan and set up Mingo's late heroics.
The last-second shot by the Cardinals missed.
"It's easy to be good for the first two quarters," E.C. Central coach Marcus Jefferson said. "Closing out in the fourth quarter, when there's a lot more pressure, is a lot tougher."