It did not come easy, but for the second night in a row the South Greene boys held off a late charge from a cross-county rival to earn a win on their home floor.
The stakes were not as high on Saturday against North Greene in a non-conference matchup as they were on Friday against Chuckey-Doak, but that did not make the finish any less intense as the Rebels escaped with a 61-58 victory.
“I’m very happy to get a win, especially for these seniors on senior night,” South Greene coach Terry Hoese said. “We beat a good a team, and there is nothing to be ashamed about with getting a win. But I did say in the locker room it’s not often you get wins and you feel like you lost. We just didn’t take care of the basketball in crucial situations. At some point I hope that clicks. But that North Greene team is going to be a tough out come tournament time.”
The Rebels held a double-digit lead in the first half and went to the break with a 27-21 advantage, but the Huskies wasted little time reversing their fortunes.
Luca May went inside to score on North Greene’s first possession of the second half and then Jason Britton went coast to coast for a lay in. With 5:41 left in the third quarter the Huskies took the lead at 28-27 when Britton sank a triple from the right wing.
Hayden Birdwell returned the lead to Rebels on the trip the other way and then a pair of steals led to a pair of buckets by Jase Roderick that put South Greene in front 34-38.
With 3:37 left in the third quarter Dennis Malone set up Britton for a backdoor layup that made North Greene history. On Saturday the junior passed Chuck Johnson to become the Huskies’ All-Time leading scorer.
“I’m very happy for him, to see him break that record,” Hoese said. “Coach Tarlton and I talked before the game and they want to recognize him at their place, or we would have done something here for that accomplishment. That kid is great player.”
Birdwell got inside and used his 6’6” frame to score over the Huskies twice in the closing minutes of the period, and Roderick scored just before the buzzer for a 43-35 South Greene lead.
North Greene would not go away and with 6:40 left the Huskies cut the lead to 45-41. Britton hit a three-pointer from the corner through contact and made good on his charity toss for a four-point play.
Bennett McLain scored three points the hard way for the Huskies and then laid one in on an inbound play, but Birdwell carried the load on the other end for South Greene with nine points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter.
Birdwell led South Greene with 21 points on Saturday and 19 of those came in the second half.
“He was huge tonight. He came to me said he could get to the bucket and asked if he could take it,” Hoese said. “I told him to go score. He stuck another three tonight, and got to the bucket for four five baskets we really needed. I’m happy for him because he has had some nights he hasn’t played well. But it was good see that on his senior night.”
With 1:42 left to play Malone made it a one possession game when he jumped a pass at half court and took it the other way for an easy two points that narrowed the margin to 58-55.
Birdwell curled in a reverse on the other end, but then Britton came back with a deep three-pointer that closed the gap to 60-58.
T.J. Buckner made one at the foul line to give South Greene a 61-58 advantage with 43 seconds left.
With 32 seconds left Britton grabbed a tough rebound to give his team a chance to tie. He then found Lance Carico in the corner for a three-pointer. Andrew Thornburg closed out hard and got a hand on the shot, those clad in green and gray thought he made contact with the shooter as well, but no whistled sounded.
The Huskies did a get whistle with 17 seconds left when Birdwell was dinged for an offensive foul while running up the floor.
North Greene was able to get off what would have been the tying shot after running Britton came around a pair of screens, but the look was still a fall-away triple from 23 feet with Conner Marshall right in the shooter’s face.
Saturday’s action started with North Greene scoring the night’s first six points.
Thornburg gave South Greene a 7-6 lead with a jumper from the lane and the Rebels closed the first quarter leading 11-8.
South Greene’s lead grew to 18-12 when Hunter Toth hit a triple from the left side.
Thornburg then scored on a pair up layups and set up Cooper Kelley for another as the lead reached 24-14 with 3:33 left in the first half.
Britton was able to take a steal the distance and then come down the baseline for two more points to close the gap to 27-21 at halftime.
Briton finished the night with 27 points for North Greene and McLain put in 13. Thornburg was also in double figures for South Greene with 12 points.
North Greene 8 13 14 23 58
South Greene 11 16 16 18 61
North Greene: Britton 27, McLain 13, May 9, Carico 5, Malone 2, English 2
South Greene: Birdwell 21, Thornburg 12, Buckner 9, Roderick 8, Toth 7, Kelley 4