JAMESTOWN — For 29 minutes, the West Liberty-Salem Tigers were able to counter anything Greeneview threw their way. But the host Rams dominated the final three minutes of Friday’s game to claim an exciting 54-44 win.
West Liberty-Salem had held a 44-39 lead with five minutes left in the game. That’s when Connor Woods drained a jump shot from the right wing. That’s also the last score the Tigers would convert for the game.
As part of a 15-0 run, Ethan Bradds found teammate Dalton Caudill along the left baseline for a score to tie things up at 44-all with 2:35 left to play. Caudill scored on Greeneview’s next two trips down the court, then Bradds snared an offensive rebound and scored to go up 50-44 with 57 seconds yet to play.
The Tigers’ frustrations got the best of them at that point. Caudill blocked a WL-S three-point try, snagged the rebound, then was fouled at the other end of the court while driving in for a score. A West Liberty-Salem player was whistled for the foul, and then whistled again for slamming the ball to the floor.
Caudill hit his two free throws, then Alec Nix nailed his to cap the Rams’ 15-point rally and their final 55-44 margin.
“I guess we just came together as a team for those last three minutes,” Caudill, who finished with a game-high 18 points, said. “We work on our defense and doing the right plays, every day in practice. And today all that work finally paid off.”
Bradds and Nix also finished the game with double-figure scoring with 11 point each. Greeneview is now 3-3 overall. They will host Cincinnati Madeira today in a nonleague game.
“After we were able to respond to all those little runs they put against us, in those last three minutes (Greeneview) played so stinking hard … we just were not able to respond the way we needed to,” said West Liberty-Salem coach Darrin Leichty. “We weren’t as strong with the basketball as we had been, that resulted in some crucial turnovers, and they were able to convert those for scores at the other end. That was the ball game for us.”
WL-S grabbed the lead at 16-14, on Ben Burden’s trey with 51.7 seconds left in the first quarter, and held that lead clear up until Bradds tied it with 2:35 to go in the game. Greeneview pulled to within one point of the Tigers four different times, but WL-S responded with a score to stretch the lead each time.
“We were all getting frustrated, sure,” Caudill said. “But I think it just motivated us to keep playing harder each time. We knew what we had to do, we just had to do it.”
Greeneview did it, in those final three minutes.