TOLONO — This is a story about a basketball win for a boys’ high school team in a basketball-rich community.
Last year, Chrisman was losing its identity. Twenty-loss seasons happen with less frequency than the Cubs win a World Series.
Chrisman’s returning players were determined to make the 2011-12 season an anomaly, not the new normal. The comeback is gaining steam.
Led by the offensive exploits of Chris Hoult — and the late-game heroics of Tyler Lunger — Chrisman held off Unity 63-60 Friday in a nonleague game at the Rocket Center.
“At the end of last year (3-26 season), we made a commitment to ourselves and to our community to put forth more effort,” Chrisman coach Greg Gisinger said. “We lifted weights and put in a lot of conditioning.
“To go through last season, not quit and come back like this is rewarding.”
Hoult, the sharpest of the Cardinals’ sharpshooters, drained four three-pointers before the game was 21/2 minutes old.
“We knew he could shoot,” said Unity coach Bill Ipsen, whose squad played its opener. “We were a little shell-shocked the first quarter.”
Hoult made five of his seven three-pointers in the opening quarter, which ended in a 17-17 deadlock.
“It was crazy,” Hoult said. “I could feel it. I was hot in warmups. We showed how good we could be.”
Three Unity athletes who played football one week earlier accounted for the Rockets’ first 15 points. Ten came from Justin Deters. Mitch Negangard had a three-pointer and Cody Innes a basket in the first period.
The Cardinals (3-3) built their lead to nine points (53-44) with less than 51/2 minutes remaining, but Austin Dillavou scored 10 of his 12 points in the final quarter, including a shot from the lane with 1:12 left that lifted Unity into a 60-59 lead.
“We played hard — that’s the key — and got the lead back,” Ipsen said.
With 30.1 seconds to go, Lunger went to the free throw line. At that point, the sophomore had not attempted a shot of any kind. He made both attempts, and Unity was unable to regain the lead.
“Our kids took the challenge, and this was a big win,” Gisinger said. “This is a great place to play basketball. It’s a sectional championship-type of atmosphere.”
Hoult, who was guarded by four different players, led all scorers with 29 points.
Matt Restad had 16 and Deters 15 for the Rockets.