The Lions came back and hit a pair of free throws, but Cross came back with a three from the left baseline followed by a short jumper to cut the Lions’ lead to 60-59 with 1:55 remaining in the contest.
Although the Rams had whittled the score down to a point the game was still in doubt.
Castleberry guard Adrian Rodriguez was fouled driving the lane and connected on a pair from the line to extend the Lions’ lead to 62-59 with 1:37 left in regulation.
The Rams’ success in the second half came from mainly driving the lane, and they used the tactic to tie the score. Guard Reece Tarver drew a foul on a drive and hit one of two charity shots to cut the lead to 62-60 with 1:29 left.
Castleberry showed the noose was tightening as the Rams’ smothering pressure defense forced an errant throw out of bounds. Wendt was fouled driving the lane on the ensuing possession, and he canned two from the line to tie the game, 62-62, with 1:12 left to play much to the delight of the small – but loud – visiting Rams’ crowd.
The game then turned wacky as both teams turned the ball over twice. With the game tied with 42 seconds left to play, it appeared Castleberry would work the clock down for a last shot.
But Cross had a different plan.
The lightning-quick guard stole the ball near mid court, drove the lane and scored on a layup and was fouled as the Rams took their first lead of the game, 64-62, with 33 seconds left to play.
However, the drama continued as Cross missed the free throw, and once again the Lions had a chance for the last shot to try and tie the game or win it with a three-pointer.
With about 13 seconds left, Castleberry guard Christian Cardona missed a three-point attempt and a hustling Wendt pulled down the biggest rebound of the contest and was fouled with 10 ticks left on the clock.