SENIORS’ NIGHT: Southwestern’s Tristan Embs (14) points to teammate and fellow senior Mathew Schwartz during the first half of Thursday’s game with Rising Sun in Hanover. The Rebels had built a solid lead over the Shiners at the time but Rising Sun rallied later to win the game 57-56 and deny Southwestern its first win of the season on senior night. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
SENIORS’ NIGHT: Southwestern’s Tristan Embs (14) points to teammate and fellow senior Mathew Schwartz during the first half of Thursday’s game with Rising Sun in Hanover. The Rebels had built a solid lead over the Shiners at the time but Rising Sun rallied later to win the game 57-56 and deny Southwestern its first win of the season on senior night. (Staff photo by Mark Campbell)
Prior to Thursday night's boys Ohio River Valley Conference basketball game between Southwestern and Rising Sun, Rebels head coach Andy Firth felt certain free throws would decide the contest.

Turns out Firth was right.

Southwestern shot a dismal 3-of-11 from the foul stripe while Rising Sun hit 12-of-16 and in doing so claimed a 57-56 win over the winless Rebels to spoil senior night in Hanover.

"We talked about it before the game ... that free throws would be the biggest factor," Firth said. "We missed too many tonight and that was a huge part of the game. Rising Sun hit the majority of theirs and we just didn't."

For one half it looked as if Southwestern would finally turn the corner and clinch its first win of the season. With Rising Sun shooting just 5-of-23 from the field in the first half the Rebels took advantage early before turnovers allowed the Shiners to get within striking distance by halftime.

Southwestern led 17-9 after the first quarter with Tristan Embs pouring in seven points over the opening eight minutes but Embs' 3-pointer in the second quarter provided to be the Rebels' lone score of the period.

Although Rising Sun's offense was still far from fully developed, Southwestern turnovers allowed the visitors to make a late run to end the first half. Austin Armstrong capitalized on Rebel miscues and scored six points and the Shiners trailed just 20-17 at the break.

"We're not a real deep team and we got into some early foul trouble," Firth said. "It was a lot like the Shawe game where we got out big early and then foul trouble and miscues hurt us. The difference however was though unlike the Shawe game we didn't lay down. We kept fighting and kept going after the win."

A disappointing ending to the first half paired with Rising Sun's offensive resurgence did not bode well for the Rebels to start the second half.

Six-foot sophomore Brady Murray scored seven of his 15 second-half points in the third quarter combined with big baskets by Jake McClellan and Brady Murray as the Shiners went on a 20-11 third quarter run to lead 37-31 with one period left to play.

Just when it seemed like Rising Sun might make a final push and put the game out of reach the Rebels came back fighting. Never trailing by more than six in the fourth quarter, Southwestern hit an array of clutch shots that brought the contest to within a single possession on numerous occasions.

But, as Firth had predicted before the game, free throws decided the Rebels' fate. Southwestern connected on only one of five attempts in the final eight minutes while Rising Sun was 10-of-16 from the stripe to ultimately hold off the furious Rebel comeback.

Even so, Southwestern had a final shot at tying the game just before the buzzer. Following two big 3-pointers by Colten Shepherd, the Rebels were down 57-54 but Tyler Ashby's floater from the right wing rimmed out.

Shepherd mustered up a rebound putback at the horn but the two-pointer was a point short as the Rebels dropped the 57-56 decision.

"Tonight was a little something different that we were accustomed to game-wise," Firth said. "It's frustrating to lose this one because I thought we shot ourselves in the foot but I give my kids credit. They fought as hard as they could, they stayed in touch when Rising Sun made their run and we came back and made it a ballgame. We've just got to learn to take that next step."

It was a big night for the trio of Shepherd, Embs and Ashby. Shepherd poured in a career-high 18 points including a crucial dozen in the final quarter. Embs added 16 with six in the fourth quarter and Ashby scored eight of his 12 in the second half.

Nick Sporleder led Rising Sun, scoring 15 second half points en route to a team-high 17. Austin Armstrong added 16.

Southwestern (0-16, 0-6 ORVC) hosts Class A No. 8 Christian Academy on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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THURSDAY'S BOYS GAME

at Hanover

RISING SUN 57, SOUTHWESTERN 56



RISING SUN 9 8 20 20 - 57

SOUTHWESTERN 17 3 11 20 - 56



RISING SUN (4-11, 2-2 ORVC) - (f)Sporleder 17, (g)A.Armstrong 16, (g)Murray 8, (g)K. Armstrong 7, McClellan 6, (f)Morris 3, Uhlmansiek 0.

SOUTHWESTERN (0-16, 0-6 ORVC) - (g)Shepherd 18, (f)Embs 16, (g)Ashby 12, (f)Schwartz 4, (f)Wheatley 4, Ary 2, Stoner 0, Arberg 0, Mitchell 0.



3-Point Goals - Rising Sun 3 (A.Armstrong 1, Morris 1, Murray 1), Southwestern 5 (Embs 2, Shepherd 2, Ashby 1). Rebounds - Rising Sun 32, Southwestern 42. Total Fouls - Rising Sun 13, Southwestern 19. Free Throws - Rising Sun 16-22, Southwestern 3-11. Fouled Out - None. Next Game - Rising Sun visits Milan on Saturday; Southwestern hosts Class A No. 8 Christian Academy on Saturday.