By JON REITER
CLARKSVILLE — Just when it seemed like the Providence Pioneers boys' basketball team couldn't buy a free throw, all it took was one for them to win the game.
Senior Brad Koerner hit the second of two free-throw attempts to give the Pioneers a 51-50 lead with less than a second remaining in their home contest against Floyd Central Saturday night. Myles Ervin's three-quarter court shot at the buzzer missed the mark, giving Providence their fifth consecutive win to start the season.
"I don't know what else to say," Providence coach Lou Lefevre said of the Class 2A No. 6 Pioneers. "It was an ugly game. I hope our players aren't happy with just having a good record. Yes, we'll take the win, but when they look back at this game, I think I'll have a different recollection of this one than they will.
"It was really awful. Both teams just weren't good. Neither team did the things they needed to do to win. But we won. Merry Christmas to us.”
Providence ended the game with the win despite only shooting 17 of 50 (34 percent) from the foul line. Floyd Central coach Mark Lieberman credited Providence's effort on offense in getting to the line that often.
"We were out-toughed, out-classed, you name it," Lieberman said. "Nothing about this game was indicative of the type of basketball I coach. They were just tougher than us in every way, shape and form. I don't have any answers right now. I'll watch the tape, and we'll see."
The Pioneers came out of the gate hot, outscoring the 0-4 Highlanders 14-2 over the first five minutes and 24 seconds of the contest. While going on that initial run, the Pioneers held the Highlanders to 1 of 9 shooting and forced five turnovers.
The Highlanders closed the first quarter with a 6-0 run, which was capped by a steal and layup by Ervin with five seconds left in the first frame. Providence led at the end of the first quarter 14-8.
After two Grant Goad free throws gave Providence a 16-10 lead with 6:15 remaining in the first half, Ervin answered with three free throws after being fouled by Providence reserve center Dawson Mitchell during a 3-point attempt. The Highlanders tied the contest at 16 after freshman guard Tyler Kimm nailed a 3-pointer form the right wing with just over five minutes left in the first half.
Two more Ervin free throws gave Floyd Central its first lead of the ballgame at 20-18 with 3:23 remaining in the first half. The visitors entered intermission ahead 25-22.
It appeared as if Floyd was poised take control of the contest during the third quarter. A 3-pointer from Kimm made the score 31-25 with four minutes remaining. But the Pioneers answered with a short jumper by Ben Shahroudi, a 3-pointer from Brock Hayden and two free-throws from Juston Betz and the Pioneers led 32-31 with 2:35 remaining following the 7-0 run.
The Highlanders led 35-34 at the end of the third quarter, and opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run that gave them a 41-34 lead with six minutes remaining. Providence answered again, with another Hayden 3-pointer and a short jumper from center Nick Hayes that drew the Pioneers to within 41-39 with just over five minutes left.
The lead changed several more times, and following a Providence miss, Floyd Central guard Austin Newell grabbed the long rebound, went the length of the court and scored for a 50-47 Highlander lead with a minute remaining.
On Providence's end, Hayden nailed yet another clutch 3-pointer to tie the score at 50 with 38 seconds left.
Floyd Central took the ball down the court and called timeout with 13 seconds left, but off the inbounds play, the Highlanders committed a turnover and the Pioneers received the ball back. With two seconds left, Lewis fouled Koerner and that set up the winning free throw for Providence.
The Pioneers are in action next on Friday night when they face off against archrival unbeaten Clarksville in the Silver Creek Holiday Tournament. Providence is ranked sixth and Clarksville seventh in Class 2A.
The Highlanders are off until Jan. 2 when the play Portage (3-2) in the Bob Wettig Invitational at Richmond.
PROVIDENCE 51, FLOYD CENTRAL 50
Providence 14 8 12 17—51
Floyd Central 8 17 10 15—50
Providence (5-0): Goad 8, Betz 2, Shahroudi 12, Koerner 8, Hayes 9, Mitchell 1, Hayden 9, Watson 0, Schuler 2.
Floyd Central (0-4): Ervin 15, Newell 7, Smith 4, Nichols 3, Lewis 7, Sturgeon 5, Kimm 9, Thomas 0, Crum 0, Simpson 0, Beach 0.
3-point field goals: Providence 4 (Hayden 3, Goad); Floyd Central 5 (Kimm 3, Ervin, Sturgeon).
Rebounds: Providence 4 (Goad, Hayden 3); Floyd Central 5 (Kimm 3, Sturgeon, Newell).
Free throws: Providence 17-50, Floyd Central 11-18.
Turnovers: Providence 16, Floyd Central 18.