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Langkabel helps No. 4 Morristown reach regional final

Morristown senior guard Eli Streeval looks for an opening near the basket on Saturday at the Martinsville Regional. The Yellow Jackets defeated University 55-53 to advance to the regional final. Streeval scored all nine of his points in the third quarter.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

MARTINSVILLE -- Hayden Langkabel was not ready for his senior season to be over.

After pump faking once and scooping a shot around his defender, Langkabel forcefully clapped his hands in celebration. The senior’s basket with 2.7 seconds left lifted No. 4 Morristown over No. 2 University 55-53 in the second semifinal of the Martinsville Regional Saturday.

The Trailblazers (21-3) were able to get a shot off before the buzzer, moving the ball down the left sideline to the corner for a last-second three. The shot would not fall, however, sending the Yellow Jackets to the regional final tonight against No. 7 Indianapolis Tindley, which advanced to the regional final with a 59-49 win over Bloomfield.

Langkabel led Morristown (25-2) with a team-high 24 points and nine rebounds, giving the Yellow Jackets a shot at their first regional title since 1998. Morristown now has the most wins in school history, topping the 1937 team. 

“We came down with 10 seconds left and coach didn’t call a timeout. He trusted me with the ball,” Langkabel said. “I was able to get it in. They got a corner three off. My heart sank a little but, once it missed, I felt relieved.”

Despite fouling out with approximately 2:15 to play, junior guard Logan Laster paced the Yellow Jackets, who were held to the lowest offensive total of the season, with 14 points. Senior guard Eli Streeval struggled to find rhythm early but scored all nine of his points during a pivotal third-quarter run for the team. 

“It was a tough game, but I am glad we are moving on. That is what is important,” Morristown head coach Scott McClelland said. “Hayden had a really good up-and-under move (in the final seconds) and put the ball high up on the glass."

Langkabel also had the top assist of the night, showing his unselfishness and desire to win -- no matter who puts the ball in the hoop.

With just under 20 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, the six-foot senior drove to the middle of the paint from the left wing and dumped a pass to teammate Trevon Carlton, a sophomore, who would finish the close-range shot to give Morristown a 53-51 lead. 

Carlton finished the game with eight points and six rebounds. 

“University had great balance," McClelland said. "I knew it was going to be a tough act. They were a good team. Our guys made some plays when we needed to."

University was able to tie the score at 51 with 1:36 left in the final frame after trailing the entire quarter. The team evened the score at 53-all but were unable to contain Langkabel on the Yellow Jackets’ final offensive possession.

Morristown led 22-20 at the break thanks to 20 points combined from Langkabel and Laster. Langkabel used a score before halftime to finish with 12 points, while Laster had eight -- including the first basket of the game on a steal and fastbreak.

The Yellow Jackets finished the first half 10 of 26 from the field. University was 8 of 19 but committed seven turnovers -- four coming on offensive fouls. The team’s starting point guard and best defender, senior Zack Hodgin, went to the bench with his third foul with just over two minutes to play in the opening half. For the game, MT was 24 of 49 from the field. The Trailblazers were 22 of 43, including a 6-for-18 effort from deep. The Yellow Jackets were 3 of 9 from behind the arc. 

A 7-0 run midway through the third quarter helped Morristown find momentum early in the second half. University, however, would battle back to cut the deficit to two, 42-40, at the end of third quarter.

The Trailblazers were led in scoring by seniors David Howard and Josh Watson with 15 points each. The team defeated Tindley 48-46 at the beginning of January.

“We have a tough match ahead (with Tindley),” McClelland said of the reigning Class A state champions. “But we are going to accept the challenge.”

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.

Morristown 55, University 53