Sophomore Jadon Coles added 11 points for Lakota East (18-2, 13-1 GMC), which trailed by as many as eight points halfway through the third quarter before rallying for its closest win of the season.
“It’s how we handled the adversity that I’m most proud of,” Thunderhawks coach Clint Adkins said. “Every time they made a run, we answered. This was a tournament-type game. It had that district-championship feel. I respect Princeton. They’re well-coached and have some great players. To be able to come in here and be tough and grind it out is a great feeling.”
The Thunderhawks were hampered by the absence due to strep throat of 6-3 junior Nate Johnson, who went into the game ranked among the GMC’s top three players in scoring and assists and first with an average of 2.4 steals per game. Adkins expects Johnson to be back for Tuesday’s showdown with the Highlanders at Lakota East. Oak Hills stayed alive in the race with a 15-point win over the Middies, but the Thunderhawks can clinch an outright championship with a win. Lakota East will take a nine-game winning streak into the game.
“They’re our only (GMC) loss,” Adkins said. “It’s going to be a heck of an atmosphere.”
The Thunderhawks will try to forget the big picture, Fuhrmann said.
“Our focus is going to be on Oak Hills,” he said.
Senior Kahlil Davis finished with a game-high 17 points for Princeton (14-6, 9-5). Senior Deairius Randle also reached double figures with 11 points for the Vikings.
With Hall of Fame Princeton football coach Pat Mancuso watching, Lakota East led, 5-4, before the Vikings claimed a lead and held it until Coles connected with a short, game-tying jumper for a 37-37 tie with 2:23 left in the game. The Thunderhawks grabbed a 39-37 lead on senior Trevor Howard’s two free throws with 1:45 left. After Princeton tied the score, sophomore Nate Adkins got free for a layup and a 41-39 lead, but Davis hit a 3-pointer from the left corner for a 42-41 lead with 30 seconds left, setting up Fuhrmann’s game-winning bucket.
Fuhrmann felt compelled to step up his game with Johnson sidelined.
“My teammates did a great job getting me the ball,” he said.