STRONG — Adam Luce may never make a bigger basket in his career than he did Monday night. If he doesn’t, it’s a heck of a memory to tell the grandkids about someday.

The sophomore grabbed his own miss in a massive scramble under the hoop and put it back for the decisive bucket, lifting the Mt. Abram boys basketball team to a thrilling 55-54 Mountain Valley Conference win over Monmouth at the buzzer.

With the victory, the Roadrunners improved to 11-6 and completed the season sweep of the Mustangs (8-7).

“Right now I’m at a loss for words,” Luce said. “Coach set up a play and it ended up going to me. I missed the first one but put up the second one. I was like, ‘Oh crap.’ You just keep working hard to get the rebound and put it back up — and I guess it went in.”

Mt. Abram inbounded the ball near mid-court out of a timeout with 7.8 seconds remaining.

The ball ended up in the hands of point guard Kenyon Pillsbury, who then found Luce in the lane. Luce’s first attempt rattled off the rim, and then the slight forward battled off bodies wearing both teams’ jerseys under the hoop for the rebound — muscling his way through a sea of arms above his head to put the second-chance in as the final horn sounded.

“It was designed to go to him,” said Mt. Abram assistant coach John Chase, filling in for head coach Dustin Zamboni, who was serving a one-game suspension following an ejection at Lisbon last Thursday.

“He should have made the layup, but he got the rebound and made it count. Let’s call it half and half. That was a big-time win.”

Nate Luce led Mt. Abram with 18 points in the victory. Thomas Deckard added 11, as the two big men in the middle for the Roadrunners dominated the offensive glass.

Gabe Martin’s 18 points paced Monmouth, but there wasn’t enough of a presence inside for the Mustangs.

“The game was offensive rebounding,” said Monmouth head coach Wade Morrill, whose team has now lost three in a row. “In the first half, they probably had eight points off offensive rebounds, and then they get the game-winning basket off an offensive rebound.

“It was a hard scramble down there.”

Morrill’s pre-game notes proved prophetic. He had warned his charges that a perfect game wasn’t needed, just a couple of plays at either end of the floor would decide things.

“We talked before the game that we didn’t have to be perfect,” Morrill said. “We had to make one more play. We had to make one more shot. We didn’t have to do anything fancy. We just had to make one more play than them at the end of the night — one more play at the offensive end, one more play at the defensive end.”

Mt. Abram led by five at halftime, 26-21, and the Roadrunners twice stretched the lead to a six-point advantage during the second half.

Monmouth scrapped back, and Martin’s layup in transition handed the visitors a 51-49 lead with 2:52 remaining. Nate Luce’s turnaround jumper with 1:10 remaining tied the score at 51-51, but the Mustangs again took the lead before a second Nate Luce bucket inside the final minute.

Monmouth later took its final lead at 54-53 with Cam Armstrong’s free throw with 16.7 seconds remaining. That set the stage for Adam Luce’s heroics.

“The biggest difference with this team is that when we go down, we come back up,” Chase said. “Last year, we struggled with that at times. This year’s team, we can do that — we can come back from a deficit and do really good work.”

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