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Whipple has finishing touch



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Littleton’s Justin Whipple releases the game-winning bucket with two seconds left to give the Crusaders a 56-54 victory over Pittsburg last Friday at Littleton High. Charlie Lentz. (click for larger version)
January 13, 2010
LITTLETON — There was no question. Littleton coach Trevor Howard sought only one option when he called timeout with 32 seconds remaining. Justin Whipple had already pumped in 27 points and as the final buzzer approached Howard was counting on his senior forward to give him one more bucket against Pittsburg last Friday.

"Definitely get it to him and let him go. We wanted to get him isolated over the wing — one on one — let him go to the hole," Howard said. "He almost lost it on the baseline but he gathered it."

Although he was recovering from an ankle sprain, Whipple didn't let it bother him as he sized up his options in a 54-54 tie game.

"Just drive to the hoop and make it, that's pretty much it," Whipple said. "Beat your guy off the dribble. I was pretty confident I was going to win it for the team."

Whipple drove the right wing and wriggled inside. He kissed it off glass with two seconds left to give the Crusaders a 56-54 victory over Pittsburg at Littleton High's gymnasium. Whipple finished with a game-high 29 points.

"I didn't really think they could defend him all night," Howard said.

Littleton built an 18-11 first-period lead and stretched the margin to 30-19 on a layup by senior forward Josh Smith with 2:03 left before halftime. The Crusaders overcame foul trouble on senior center Mike Sheppard, who took a seat after being whistled for his second foul with 6:49 left in the first quarter. Sheppard didn't return until 5:37 remained before halftime.

"We never got (Sheppard) going all night," Howard said. "He got in foul trouble right off the bat."

After trailing 30-19, Pittsburg went on a 5-1 run in the final two minutes of the half on a three-pointer by Hunter Judd and a bucket from close range by Travis Chase with seven seconds left before the intermission. Pittsburg cut Littleton's lead to 31-24 at the break.

"We had them down 10 or more, never put them away," Howard said. "Let them hang around."

Pittsburg chipped away at Littleton's lead in the third quarter and Marcus Chase sank a putback to cut Littleton's margin to 41-37 after three quarters.

"We really should have done a better job offensively," Howard said. "I thought we could have got a lot better looks throughout that game."

Littleton managed to push its margin to 48-37 on a pair of free throws by Whipple with 5:11 left in regulation but couldn't keep the big lead.

"We got up 11 and never put them away, let them hang around," Howard said. "It wasn't pretty."

Pittsburg finally tied it on a three-pointer by Matthew Ormsbee with :48 left in regulation. Littleton moved the ball over halfcourt and called timeout. The Crusaders almost lost the ball before their final play. Pittsburg tipped a pass by Littleton sophomore guard Sam Brammer and it went out of bounds. The Crusaders retained possession and eventually put it in Whipple's hands.

"We pulled it out," Howard said. "(Whipple's) tough to defend. He's getting better at finishing."

(NOTE: PLEASE FORMAT FOLLOWING BOX SCORE IN 12 PT BOLD ITALIC)

Pittsburg

Matthew Ormsbee 5 2-3 13, Marcus Chase 9 1-3 20, Whitney Covill 0 0-2 0, Travis Chase 1 0-0 2, Evan Kelsea 1 0-2 2, Hunter Judd 5 0-1 11, Logan Chase 2 2-3 6. Totals 23 5-13 54. Three-point goals: Ormsbee, M. Chase, Judd.

Littleton

Aaron Clark 1 0-0 3, Josh Smith 4 3-4 11, Jesse Ledoux 1 0-1 2, Tom Quillin 0 2-2 2, Sam Brammer 1 2-4 5, Justin Whipple 11 7-11 29, Dan Bennett 0 2-2 2, Mike Sheppard 0 2-2 2. Totals 18 18-24 56. Three-point goals: Clark, Brammer.

Score by quarters

Pittsburg 11-13-13-17—54

Littleton 18-13-10-15—56

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