For the Daily Journal

Edinburgh’s boys basketball team won its first sectional game in six years and will play tonight for its first sectional championship since 2012, thanks primarily to stingy defense and deadeye free throw shooting late in Friday’s Class A Edinburgh Sectional semifinal.

After Madison Shawe trimmed the Lancers’ lead to 33-32 with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter, Edinburgh gradually pulled away. It built a 55-39 fourth-quarter lead before eventually claiming a 63-50 victory.

The Lancers (16-8) will play Trinity Lutheran (9-16) in tonight’s championship. The Cougars edged West Washington 39-34 in the other semifinal.

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Edinburgh did most of its damage at the free throw line and with its tight, on-the-ball backcourt defense. The Lancers hit 17 of 22 free throws, including 12 of 13 in the fourth quarter, and committed just eight turnovers. Shawe (5-20), meanwhile, hit just 12 of its 22 free throws and the Lancers forced the Hilltoppers into 18 miscues.

“Our defense finally tightened the reins a little bit,” Edinburgh coach Keith Witty said, explaining the Lancers’ fourth-quarter surge. “That allowed us to get breakaways and layups, and we hit a lot of our free throws. But give Shawe credit. That was a different team than the one we played two weeks ago (Edinburgh won in Madison, 53-38, on Feb. 17).”

Coltan Henderson led Edinburgh with 19 points, and his game was a perfect summary of the Lancers’ team output. He scored nine of his 19 in the fourth quarter and hit all six of his free throws, all in the final quarter.

Parker Bryant and Bryce Burton added 12 points apiece for Edinburgh. Bryant had to exit the game midway through the third quarter after collecting his fourth foul, and his absence contributed to Shawe’s comeback. But by the time Bryant returned with 4:05 to play, his teammates had built the lead back to 47-37.

“Coltan is one of our outstanding threats,” Witty said. “This is a huge boost of momentum for our program. We haven’t won a sectional game since 2012, and to do this is a positive for us. To win an ugly one like this could be good for us. We had a great student section and the town supports us.”

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Adam Wire is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.