The Norwalk boys basketball team lost a crushing 50-48 game in the final seconds on Friday at Shelby.
But the Truckers (10-8, 6-4) need to make sure the setback doesn’t linger, according to Norwalk head coach Steve Gray.
The loss snapped a seven-game win streak — and puts Norwalk a game behind Sandusky in the loss column for first place in the Sandusky Bay Conference Lake division.
But the Truckers entertain Sandusky (13-6, 8-3) next Friday at Norwalk High School with the chance to move right back into first place.
“Not many teams in the second-to-last league game of the year get to play for a championship,” Gray said. “It’s a little tougher now, but we get that opportunity next Friday.
“We have to make sure as a group that this is one loss,” he added. “We cannot allow it to affect (tonight) or next week.”
Norwalk trailed 37-29 entering the fourth quarter on Friday, but scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to take a 40-37 lead with 4:43 left.
The Truckers still led 46-42 with 2:17 left after a basket by Brandon Haraway — but then the game quickly turned. Shelby’s Hunter Hoffman got open to connect on back-to-back 3-pointers around a Norwalk miss in a 45-second span, allowing the Whippets to take a 48-46 lead with 1:03 left.
Norwalk’s Garrett Chapin scored on a putback with 45.2 seconds left to tie the game. But the Whippets (12-6, 6-4) held for the last shot, and while attempting to drive to the basket, Brady Hill was fouled by Eric Hull with 9.4 seconds left.
Hill made both free throws for a 50-48 lead.
Out of a timeout, Haraway drove the length of the floor, but his driving shot in the final two seconds was altered and came up short to seal the game.
“We lost this game at the defensive end,” Gray said. “Hoffman hits the two threes in a row because we weren’t supposed to help down, and we did. And at the start of the third quarter they scored on four straight possessions.
“We’re better than that, defensively,” he added. “They shot 51 percent from the field — and that’s unacceptable.”
Norwalk opened the game with an 8-0 run in the first 2:07 — including an impressive slam dunk by Haraway. Shelby had tied it at 11 and took a 22-21 lead into halftime thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Carter Brooks.
The Whippets then closed the third quarter on a 7-1 scoring run to open up the 37-29 lead entering the fourth.
Haraway opened the final quarter with two straight scores — and an Andrew Ehrenberg driving basket quickly made it a 37-35 deficit with 6:11 left. At the other end, Haraway then came up with a block — and raced to the other end to convert a three-point play to give the Truckers a 38-37 lead with 5:47 left.
Chapin then scored with 4:43 left to put Norwalk up three, setting up the wild final four minutes.
Haraway finished with 19 points, with Chapin adding 13 points and seven rebounds. Ehrenberg added eight points.
“It was a great high school game,” Gray said. “We played extremely hard — and this will help us down the road.”
In the junior varsity game, Norwalk improved to 10-7 with a 47-38 win. Garrett Obringer scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting, while Ryan Sowders and Cobey Kromer each added eight points.
Norwalk hosts Northwestern (9-8) in a non-league game tonight.