CLAYTON — West Liberty-Salem erased a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and took the lead with 10 seconds to go, but Greeneview scored with six-tenths of a second remaining to win, 57-56, in a Division III boys sectional basketball contest between the two on Friday.
Neil Markin was able to lay the ball in off a steal with just under 13 seconds left after a Greeneview timeout, but the Rams pushed the ball up the floor and nailed a contested shot inside with under a second to play to win the game. WL-S Coach Darrin Leichty had a timeout, but had elected to let the game play out at the end.
“My thinking was to keep them from setting something up, but they pushed the ball hard. They were ready for it, and you have to give the kid credit – he hit a tough shot,” Leichty said.
West Liberty-Salem got off to a sluggish start. The effort was a little lax defensively, shots wouldn’t fall and the Tigers quickly found themselves in an 8-0 hole. Greeneview went on to win the opening quarter, 15-5.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half. The effort – we were shocked a little bit. Shots aren’t going to go in when you’re not playing real hard defensively,” Leichty said. “They came out ready to play and by the time we figured it out, it was too late.”
After digging the hole a bit deeper in the second quarter, WL-S went to a pressure defense and played reinvigorated defense. Still, the boys in orange and white were only able to maintain the 10-point deficit at halftime, 32-22.
The third quarter was a different story, with the Tigers forcing a couple of turnovers and nailing a couple of three-pointers to close the gap to four points.
The momentum had definitely shifted, but the Tigers went cold again and Greeneview pushed the lead back to 11 points while WL-S center Trevor Burden sat on the bench, using a combination of blocks and a dunk from their big man, Mason Schneider. Schneider had 18 points in the game, while Burden led WL-S with 15.
“We had a lot of guys getting tired out there and keeping them fresh was a big deal,” Leichty said. “We caught our second wind too late.”
The fourth quarter saw WL-S erase a 13-point deficit that it started the frame with. The Tigers cut it to four with a minute and change remaining, then three, and a Max Eggleston steal and layup made it a one-point margin. Markin’s go-ahead layup happened on the next play – the first time the Tigers owned the lead.
Kannon Stillings had 13 points for WL-S, with Eggleston adding 9 and Tyler Louden scoring 8.
It was a tough pill to swallow for a senior-laden team that has had its share of ups and downs this season.
“I think we peaked at the right time at the end of the year,” Leichty said. “I think the program is pretty stable and the next group of guys is ready. We’ve got four very important seniors leaving in Adam (Schultz), Dillon (Callicoat), Tyler and Kannon. Those are huge shoes to fill.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.