JONESBOROUGH - South Greene’s season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion after an overtime loss to Gatlinburg-Pittman 60-58.
“How do you fault these guys and say anything bad? We played our butts off. I knew coming in that they could play. They were good,” Rebels Head Coach Terry Hoese said. “
For the second-straight year the Rebels were bounced out of postseason play by the Highlanders in the Region 1-2A semifinals.
Neither team could settle the score in regulation and it would have to be done in overtime. The Rebels led for a majority of the second half, but watched their eight-point fourth quarter lead slowly slip away on a few bad breaks.
Cooper Kelley got a clean look at the basket on the final shot of regulation but wouldn’t get the shot to fall and a last-second shot by Hayden Birdwell in overtime fell just short.
It was a fantastic season for the Rebels overall. Finishing with a final record of 21-11 (7-1) and claiming the top spot within District 1-2A and defended that by winning the conference tournament.
The Rebels started great though with a put-back bucket from Jase Roderick to strike first. Hayden Birdwell blocked Carlos Orr in the paint on the Highlanders’ first possession.
Ty Glasper provided G-P’s first five points on a smooth mid-range and a step-back triple to put them ahead.
After scoring on the first possession, South Greene would go cold until the halfway mark when TJ Buckner added a layup down low.
Seth Sutton intercepted a pass at half court and coasted to the hoop for a transition basket.
Jase Roderick drew the Rebels closer with a floater in the lane, but Carlos Orr’s lay in on the next possession kept the Highlanders lead at five points.
Both teams traded bucket-for-bucket in the closing minutes of the first quarter. Gatlinburg-Pittman led 15-10 after one.
TJ Buckner was left open under the glass gained a wide-open layup on the block.
Ty Glasper stepped outside for a long-range trey at the top of the key to make it a six-point game.
Hunter Toth and Cooper Kelley worked together to provide ten-straight points for South Greene to give them their first lead since the opening basket.
Toth’s layup started the run with Kelley’s and-one gaining the momentum needed to spark a run. Toth spotted up from the corner and splashed a three-point bucket to regain the lead at 22-20.
The Rebels headed into the half with a 26-21 lead over the Highlanders.
Every team needs a big play coming out of the intermission to set the pace going forward into the second half. South Greene did exactly that with an emphatic slam from Hayden Birdwell that rocked the rim and sent the Rebel faithful to their feet.
Hunter Toth had been a senior leader for South Greene all year and didn’t let his great scoring effort stop at the half. An athletic hesitation move led to a layup off the glass. Toth led South Greene with a 15-point effort.
Seth Sutton pulled G-P out of an eight-point deficit with a three-point basket. Hayden Birdwell helped erase that bucket with an and-one play.
Ty Glasper moved through the lane for a layup between defenders. Carlos Orr glided through the air for a double-clutch layup to avoid outstretched arms.
Hunter Toth was the spark plug for South Greene and provided another clutch basket with a mid-range at the buzzer.
The Rebels held a 39-35 advantage going into the fourth frame.
TJ Buckner performed a three-point play the old-fashioned way with an and-one to put them ahead 44-37.
Ty Glasper slowly helped G-P crawl back within one point by scoring on two layups.
With 3:44 left in regulation, Cooper Kelley scored another and-one to boost South Greene’s lead to 51-45. Buckner scored a layup after that to lift them ahead by eight points.
That lead would slowly slip away from them in the closing minutes after many unfortunate breaks. The Highlanders managed to go on an 8-0 run to tie the game at 53-53.
“We were up by eight at one point and they got two or three offensive rebounds before we ever got the ball back. They’d rebound it and we’d foul them. They’d go to the free throw line make one and miss one and they’d rebound it and we’d foul them. We just didn’t do a very good job on the defensive glass tonight for the most part,” Hoese stated.
Cooper Kelley pulled the trigger from three-point land with five seconds left on a game-winning attempt that just missed the mark and sent the game into overtime.
“You couldn’t ask for a better look and I wouldn’t want anybody else to take it,” Coach Hoese mentioned.
Jase Roderick attempted four foul shots in the overtime period and went three-of-four from the line. Andrew Thornburg scored his only two points of the night on a back door cut to the basket.
The Highlanders wouldn’t have been in the position they were in if it weren’t for Ty Glasper. The sophomore guard double-clutched a layup for his only bucket of the overtime period. Jackson Desear scored on another layup for the Highlanders. Wade Whaley went one-for-two from the line to tie the game with under two minutes left.
South Greene attempted to hold the ball for the final minute and-a-half to get the last shot. G-P’s defense sprang a trap along the sideline and successfully stole the ball away from the Rebels. Wade Whaley came away with the ball and sprinted towards the hoop for what would prove to be the game-winning layup.
With no timeouts left and ten seconds on the clock, the Rebels were forced to run up the floor with one last chance without a plan in place. TJ Buckner went up for a layup but was blocked by Carlos Orr. The ball bounced to Hayden Birdwell along the baseline and he’d send up one last prayer for the Rebels’ season, but left it just short.
South Greene’s season came to a disappointing end by a 60-58 final in overtime.
Hunter Toth’s senior season ended with him leading the way with 15 points. Cooper Kelley followed behind him with 12 points and Hayden Birdwell wrapped up his career at South Greene with 11 points.
“Everybody that played came in and gave me good minutes. It’s been a great season and I’m not going to let this take that away,” Hoese expressed.
Ty Glasper accumulated a game-high 30 points in Gatlinburg-Pittman’s win. Carlos Orr had a tough shooting night but still came away with 16 points.
G-P will face off against Alcoa Thursday night in the championship game at Pigeon Forge High School.