CLARION - Things were looking bleak for Clarion-Limestone in its fourth matchup with Karns City on the season Wednesday, March 1.
With a berth in the District 9 Class 2A title game at stake, the Lions trailed the Gremlins, who they had beaten on the same PennWest Clarion Tippin Gym Court a week-and-a-half ago for the KSAC title, 39-34, with just under six minutes to play.
But with its back against the wall, C-L looked to its two guards - senior Jordan Hesdon and sophomore Jase Ferguson - to lead it into its first District 9 title game in eight seasons.
The duo combined to score 11 of the Lions' 13 points in a game-ending 13-4 run that gave C-L a 47-43 win over the Gremlins.
"Those guys are just scrapping all over the place," C-L head coach Joe Ferguson said. "It was a true team effort."
Hesdon came up with the game's biggest bucket when he hauled in an offensive rebound of a missed reverse layup by Alex Painter and put it back in with about 37 seconds left giving the Lions a 41-40 lead.
"It was kind of a blur," Hesdon said. "I know we needed to get those two points to go up by one. Thankfully, my teammates blocked out just as well as I did, and I got the rebound and put it back up."
A timeout was called following the basket, and Karns City threw its ensuing inbounds pass away meaning the Gremlins had to foul Ferguson, who hit two free throws to put C-L ahead 43-40
The Gremlins missed a chance to tie the game and were forced to foul Jack Callen.
The junior, who had been so clutch for C-L through most of the playoffs, missed the free throws.
But Ferguson, who returned for the postseason after missing a number of games with an elbow injury, got the offensive rebound setting up a Hesdon game-sealing free throw with 3.5 seconds to play.
"Those (Ferguson and Hesdon) are two of my guards," Joe Ferguson said. "They are in their crashing. We got the boards when we needed to have the boards. They were fighting. They were just in there fighting for boards. I am just really proud of the kids overall."
Karns City led by as many as 12, 25-13, with less than two minutes to play in the first half before the Lions rallied and got within five, 25-20, at halftime on a 3-pointer by Jack Craigh with 15 seconds left in the half.
"(Craig's three) was huge," Joe Ferguson said. "It didn't go unnoticed by me. We were just struggling offensively and defensively. We needed points. When he hit that three, I was just like that closes the gap."
The run grew to 10-0 when C-L scored the first three points of the second half to make it a two-point game, 25-23, but a 3-pointer by Taite Beighley and a basket by Micah Rupp got the Gremlins' lead back to seven 30-23, with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.
Painter, though, answered with a 3-pointer at the other end, and the game was never further apart than five points the rest of the way.
"I felt like all we needed to do was get out defensive intensity up," Joe Ferguson said. "But then, the ball sometimes doesn't bounce your way either. They are probably feeling the same way, to be honest. Karns City played a heck of a game."
Hesdon's 13 points, six assists, three rebounds, and two steals paced C-L with Ferguson adding nine points, four steals, four rebounds, and two assists. Klingensmith also scored eight points.
Rupp had a game-high 14 points for Karns City with Beighley and Hobie Bartoe each adding 10 points.