LAGRANGE — Cameron Kuhn may have a new nickname after his performance Saturday night.
Kuhn, or “Mr. Fourth Quarter,”scored 13 of his game-high 25 points in the final quarter to lead Vermilion to a come-from-behind 45-39 win over Keystone in a Division II sectional final.
Vermilion (17-7) advances to the district semifinal Wednesday against Buckeye at Westlake High School.
“Coach told me to ‘man up’,” Kuhn said. “We love being underdogs. Everybody had Keystone beating us so we had to prove everybody wrong. So it’s on to the next one. It feels amazing. I’m so happy right now.”
The Sailors were down 37-30 to start the fourth quarter, but were able to outscore the Wildcats 15-4 to pull out the win. Kuhn scored 12 of his team’s 15, including going 8-for-10 from the line.
Kyle Nader struggled from the field, going 2-for-14, but came up big on the boards. He grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds, including six in the decisive quarter. He also came up big from the free throw line, going 2-for-2 with the Sailors leading by three.
“I was frustrated with how we were playing overall,” Nader said. “We know what we can do to be great and I didn’t think we were playing at that level. The fourth quarter, we really turned it around.
“We started playing as a team a little bit more. We started taking care of the ball and really focusing on rebounding.”
Keystone (16-7) trailed by three early in the third quarter before going on a 13-2 run to take an eight-point lead. The run was fueled by Austin Conrad, who scored five of his team-high 10 points, and three baskets by Matt Bastock, who was held to just eight points. C.J. Conrad added seven points and grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds.
The Wildcats shot a dismal 2-for-11 in the fourth quarter and could only muster a pair of putbacks by Jacob Miller and Brandon Kuhl.
“I think their kids were hungrier than our kids,” Keystone coach Jeff Holzhauer said. “They beat us on the glass. They beat us to loose balls. They played better defense than we did. I love this team. They’re great kids, but I think we got beat by a hungrier basketball team.”
The game featured 11 lead changes until late in the third quarter when the Wildcats went on their run.
Vermilion went cold in the second quarter, going 0-for-11 before Kuhn was able to score on a driving layup right before the buzzer to give the Sailors a 23-22 halftime lead. Caleb Waller made three of five free throws for the Sailors’ only other points in the quarter.
“We challenged our kids a little bit. I wasn’t real happy with what they were doing defensively,” Vermilion coach Kurt Habermehl said. “We’re a pressure basketball team and if we’re not going to pressure, we’re just not going to be good. We did a great job in the fourth quarter of getting up on Keystone’s guards and making things difficult for them.
“We’ve had a lot of experience in these fourth-quarter games and we’ve been down a lot. It doesn’t help me any, health-wise, but I have a lot of confidence in these kids. I’m real proud of them tonight.”
Contact Steve Walker at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Vermilion 45, Keystone 39
VERMILION (45): Forrest Boyd 3-1-8, Aaron Dawson 0-0-0, Kyle Nader 2-2-7, Seth Konrad 0-0-0, Cameron Kuhn 8-8-25, Ross Lewis 0-0-0, Caleb Waller 0-3-3, Zach Myracle 0-0-0, Nick Prenatt 1-0-2. Totals 14-14-45.
KEYSTONE (39): C.J. Conrad 2-3-7, Austin Conrad 2-6-10, K.J. Williams 2-0-4, Matt Bastock 4-0-8, Brandon Kuhl 1-0-2, Collin Fitzgerald 1-0-2, Jacob Miller 3-0-6. Totals 15-9-39.
Vermilion 18 5 7 15 — 45
Keystone 14 8 13 4 — 39
Three-point goals: Vermilion 3-17 (Nader, Kuhn, Boyd), Keystone 0-7. Field goals: Vermilion 14-50 (28 percent), Keystone 15-41 (37 percent). Free throws: Vermilion 14-20 (70 percent), Keystone 9-17 (70 percent). Rebounds: Vermilion 37 (Nader 17), Keystone 35 (C.J. Conrad 13). Total fouls: Vermilion 13, Keystone 16. Turnovers: Vermilion 16, Keystone 21.