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Liam Klebon’s half-court shot lifts Southern in a thriller past Wellsboro in District 4 playoffs

Wellsboro held for the last shot in a tie game, and called a timeout with 13.3 seconds left. Point guard Conner Adams got a screen from Liam Manning on the right wing, took a few dribbles to his left and got up an off-balanced three that looked like it was surely going to win Wellsboro the basketball game in regulation. Somehow, the rim spit the ball back up as the buzzer went off, and four minutes of game play later, a half court shot from Southern Columbia’s Liam Klebon hit nothing but net as Southern Columbis shocked Wellsboro in overtime, 61-58, in the quarterfinals of the District 4 Class AAA boys playoffs Thursday night in Wellsboro.

“We’ve been running this play at practice all week just in case it comes down to something like this at the end. And we usually do with a little more time on it but with 1.7 seconds I didn’t know if we could get the shot off. And I didn’t know how much time I had coming down. So I just took a couple of steps and let it go,” Klebon said. “(When it went in) I was in shock, I didn’t know what was happening.”

It was as good as coach Joey Britto could have drawn it up. Tyler Arnold took it out underneath the Hornet basket. Klebon started at half court in the left corner and worked off screens to his right, caught a perfect pass from Arnold, curled up the court and hit a shot near the sideline that looked perfect as soon as it left his hand.

“Going over those things in practice pays off and they executed it perfectly, exactly the way we’re supposed to,” Britto said.

The game was very nearly Wellsboro’s.

The Hornets led the majority of the game, though it was close throughout. Missed free throws down the stretch in the fourth quarter that could’ve helped put the game away didn’t go in, but the miss that Hornet fans will rue for years came at the buzzer of regulation.

“I’m not sure how that missed,” Britto said. “It was more in than out.”

Wellsboro lost star big man Manning early in the first half to fouls, as he picked up his second with 6:37 to go in the first quarter. That surely helped undersized Southern Columbia stay with the Hornets early, as the Tigers took awhile to get their shooting stroke after a long bus ride. Wellsboro led by two after the opening quarter, and at halftime led 25-22.

It appeared midway through the third quarter that the game was getting away from the Tigers. An Adams and-one put Wellsboro up eight just under the midway mark of the quarter. But, two quick threes by Brian Britton immediately got it back to a two-point game and the teams traded baskets from there to make it 37-35, Wellsboro, after three.

Wellsboro looked once again in control of the game in the fourth quarter, and two one-and-one opportunities late presented themselves opportunities to extend the lead. But, Wellsboro missed the front end of both, and back-to-back buckets by Braeden Wisloski and Liam Klebon tied the game with under 1:20 to go. Wellsboro retook the lead on a Manning putback, but a Klebon basket with 37 seconds remaining tied it, setting up the dramatic Adams miss, sending us to overtime.

The overtime was nip and tuck, but again Wellsboro missed chances at the line to extend their lead. Still, they led by three with 1:14 remaining, but a Klebon layup and an Arnold basket sandwiched around one Hornet free throw tied it up with 30 seconds to play. Wellsboro got two good looks at the win, but Southern corralled a rebound with 1.2 seconds left, and called timeout. 0.5 seconds was correctly put back on the clock, shaping up Klebon’s heroics.

It was a mighty tough way for Wellsboro to lose a game they felt they should’ve won.

“It’s always hard when you lose a game and then when you lose one in overtime and a buzzer beater on your home floor that makes it even tougher,” Hornet coach Steve Adams said. “But I’m very proud of the kids afterwards.”

SOUTHERN COLUMBIA (61)

Michael Zsido 3 2-2 9, Liam Klebon 7 2-3 18, Jake Toczylusky 1 0-0 2, Brian Britton 7 1-2 18, Tyler Arnold 2 1-2 5, Braeden Wisloski 3 3-6 9. Totals 23 9-15 61.

WELLSBORO (58)

Peyton McClure 3 1-2 10, Conner Adams 7 4-5 19, Liam Manning 6 2-4 14, Darryn Callahan 3 0-1 6, Hayes Campbell 3 0-1 6, Cameron Brought 0 3-4 3. Totals 22 10-17 58.

Southern 12 10 17 10 12 — 61

Wellsboro 14 11 16 8 9 — 58

3-point goals: Southern 6 (Britton 3, Klebon 2, Zsido 1), Wellsboro 4 (McClure 3, Adams 1).

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