“He’s been huge for us,” Butler continued. “He’s been knocking down shots all year and he’s definitely leading our team in charges. Those were huge charges.”
Unatego coach Jim Knight then called for time and subbed in junior guard Johnathan Forte, who made the most of his 9 seconds on the court. The Spartans inbounded to Forte, who was quickly fouled by Mike Ward and made the first of two free throws for the final margin.
“He’s my best free throw shooter,” Knight said of Forte. “That was the right situation (to put Forte in). I’m sure his heart was going 100 mph, but he’s OK.”
Hunter Sowersby missed a desperation three-pointer just before time expired as Unatego escaped with a victory over the No. 1 seed for the upcoming Section Four Class C Tournament.
“This might be a wake-up call if we’ve been coasting a little bit,” said Brazee, whose team had won 16 straight since opening the season with a 66-49 loss to Utica Notre Dame on Nov. 30. “What we’ve got coming up in sectionals is tough.
“I went and watched (eighth-seeded) Odessa-Montour the other night and they’re pretty good. They’ve got a 6-foot-5 kid and they’re decent,” Brazee continued. “They’ve got to play (ninth-seeded) Spencer-Van Etten, which has a foreign exchange student who’s the point guard for the Spanish Junior National Team. It’s not going to get any easier. So if we needed a wake-up call, maybe this is it.”
Sidney, which will host its sectional quarterfinal at 7 p.m. this Saturday, also received double-digit scoring efforts from Zimmer (12 points) and Brandon Walters (10).
Barnhart and Kellen Komenda each scored 12 points to lead Unatego, which received 11 apiece from Butler and Winchester. Butler, who made both ends of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity for the final points of regulation, also grabbed 10 rebounds.