Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Sports

December 2, 2012

Pirates seize EIAC thriller over Bulldogs

Greensburg — Saturday night’s game between the Greensburg and Batesville boys basketball teams did not match the intensity and excitement of the sectional semifinal thriller in March, but its 58-56 conclusion turned out to be one of the top classic finishes in the rivalry. Both teams entered the game unbeaten and knowing a win gave them control of the Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference.

The victorious Pirates, ranked first in the Associated Press Class 3A poll, found themselves trailing at the outset. The visiting Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held the Pirates scoreless beyond the opening two minutes. Although the win required a team effort from everyone, pivotal plays by a few Pirates picked up struggling teammates.

The host Pirates maintained their composure and, whether on defense or at the foul line, generated enough clutch plays in the closing minutes to prevail.

“They made huge plays that are going to dictate the outcome of the game,” said Pirate head coach Stacy Meyer. “We made enough plays through hustle that won the game.”

Junior Sean Sellers scored his team’s first point and its last three points of the game. In between Sellers’ trips to the foul line, the teams saw four ties and three lead changes.

Perimeter shooting played a factor in Greensburg’s comeback. Junior Macy Holdsworth hit a game-high five 3-pointers for 15 points, including four in the second half. Holdsworth heated up early, and after getting down 7-1, Greensburg broke out with treys by Holdsworth, Sellers and junior Bryant McIntosh to tie it at 14-all.

Batesville led 11-9 after the first eight minutes, a stark contrast to Greensburg’s early 22-6 edge over Lawrenceburg the previous night.

“We didn’t come out in the first quarter with the intensity that we showed last night,” said Meyer. “Batesville played well early, therefore we dug a hole.”

Batesville climbed back ahead with four straight points by sophomore Bryan Hoeing, but Pirate McIntosh scored 10 of his team’s next 14 points to put Greensburg up 27-20. A Sellers basket provided the seven-point margin, and he later drove to the hoop for a layup at the buzzer for a 29-24 halftime lead.

Starting in the second half, Batesville quickly narrowed its five-point deficit and pulled to within two at 29-27. Holdsworth heated back up with three triples in a four-minute span, but the Bulldogs again stormed back to tie it at 42 at the end of the third period.

Greensburg reclaimed a five-point lead, but the visitors rode a 12-0 run that shifted the momentum back in their favor. Back-to-back triples, four points from starter Nathan Longstreth and Kassidy Kase’s basket, gave Batesville its biggest lead of the night at 56-49.

That’s when McIntosh and the Pirate defense stepped up. McIntosh tallied six straight points, including a three to make it 56-55 with 1:41 left in the game. The Pirates came up with successive steals by McIntosh and Rigney on the baseline, which helped shut out Batesville the rest of the way.

The Bulldogs committed a costly turnover, forced by McIntosh, and Pirate head coach Stacy Meyer called a full timeout. With 26.6 seconds left, Sellers drew a foul and made both free throws to put Greensburg on top 57-56.

Batesville attempted a shot that sophomore Ryan Welage blocked and rebounded with 14 seconds left. With one final chance to tie, the Bulldogs missed the front end at the stripe. Welage grabbed another defensive rebound, forcing another foul on Sellers with eight seconds left. Sellers gave his team the final two-point margin and Batesville missed the final shot.

“I’m proud of our guys for not folding,” said Meyer. “When they got down in the fourth, they could have folded, and they didn’t.”

McIntosh, who drew interest Saturday night from University of New Mexico and Xavier University, led all scorers with 23 points. Sellers and Holdsworth scored 15 apiece, with Sellers shooting 6-for-9 from the stripe. Welage and senior Tyler Burcham each scored two, while senior Shane Ploeger added one.

Greensburg shot 12-for-19 (63 percent) from the line, and Batesville shot 4-for-10.

Bryan Hoeing led Batesville with 14 points. Senior guard Mike Hoeing and sophomore Matt Dennis each added eight.

Afterward, Meyer commended the Pirates for persevering in the face of adversity.

“I’m proud of how we responded,” said Meyer. “Through the first four games, we hadn’t had real adversity like we did tonight, and we responded.”

Meyer, though, noted that the game revealed areas that his team needs to improve.

“It shows there’s a lot that we have to get better at,” he said.

Holdsworth broke out for a season-high 15 points to take pressure off teammates who struggled.

“I felt like he started to find his shooting tonight,” said Meyer of Holdsworth. “That’s what I can appreciate. He stepped up huge (to pick up his teammates).”

Meyer acknowledged the big crowds that filled the stands Saturday.

“I want to personally thank our fans for their support and getting behind our team tonight,” he said. “I really appreciate that.”

The Pirates travel to East Central (1-2 overall, 1-0 in EIAC) this Saturday for another EIAC matchup.

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