Cheri Chester/for the NT

CAM’s Ethan Arp (3) takes a shot on the inside with several Nodaway Valley players guarding him during Friday’s game at Anita.

ANITA – Connor McKee’s basket with four seconds left and some great defense in the final moments helped lift CAM to a thrilling 59-58 victory over Nodaway Valley Friday night in both teams’ regular-season finale.

The game was back-and-forth in the first half with Nodaway Valley taking a 26-24 halftime lead. The Wolverines surged ahead just a bit in the third period to lead by seven, at 49-42 after the third quarter.

Coach Nick Hodges rallied his team during an early fourth-quarter time out.

“I told the kids this is no time to panic, we have over seven minutes into it and (to) limit them to one shot,” the coach said.

Hitting three three-point shots helped the Cougars catch up, and force a 57-56 lead with under a minute to play. The Wolverines retook the lead with 17 seconds left, but Hodges didn’t call time out, instead showing confidence in his team and letting them set up the final play.

“I trusted the team, and I didn’t want them (Nodaway Valley) to have a chance to set up defensively, so we went, and (McKee) made a nice jumper and hit it in the lane with about four seconds left.”

The Wolverines called time out to set up for a potential game winning shot, but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass and were forced to foul after CAM inbounded. The Cougars were not yet in the bonus, and they were able to run the clock out.

McKee and Lane Spieker each had 14 points to lead the Cougars, while Jacob Holste added 13.

The Cougars finished the regular season 17-4 and will host Earlham in a quarterfinal-round Iowa Class 1A district contest at 8 p.m. Thursday.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.