GHS comes up just short
It looked like a simple layup.
But Greenville High School head coach Richard Kelly knows it was much more.
With Greenville leading 34-31 with eight seconds remaining in the first half, the Tigers surrendered an easy layup to No. 3 Sumter Central High School to cut the Tigers’ lead to a single point heading into the intermission.
“That basket going into the half is something that hurt our momentum,” Kelly said.
Sumter Central would go on to win the game 68-67 to claim the Class 5A, Area 6 championship.
The Jaguars raced out to a 22-12 lead after the first eight minutes of play before Greenville stormed back to outpace Sumter Central 22-11 in the second period to carry a 34-33 lead into halftime.
Greenville outscored the Jaguars 18-15 in the third period to extend its lead to four points.
“We basically outhustled them to build the lead heading into the fourth,” Kelly said.
The fourth period was a seesaw battle.
Greenville captured the lead with 30 seconds to play, but an errant shot from the Tigers allowed the Jaguars to race down the court and score a bucket.
A foul allowed the Jaguars to shoot a free throw, which proved to be the difference in the contest.
Sumter Central outscored Greenville 20-15 in the final eight minutes of play to earn the victory.
“We played a great basketball game against a great team,” Kelly said. “I was proud of our hustle the entire game. This hurts, but we have to let it go and prepare ourselves for Paul Bryant (High School).”
Zac Smith led the Tigers’ offensive charge with 21 points.
Javarrius Cheatham scored 13 points in the loss.
Greenville will play No. 2 Paul Bryant High School Friday at 7 p.m. in Cottondale.
Greenville downs Demopolis
Greenville defeated Demopolis High School 42-39 Friday night in the first round of the Class 5A, Area 6 tournament.
Demopolis jumped out to an early lead, due in large part to a lot of defensive pressure they put on Greenville.
Demopolis led 9-6 at the end of the first period behind five points from senior Tommy Wilson.
In the second quarter, Greenville settled into a groove offensively and Demopolis could not find the basket, and Greenville took a 16-14 lead into halftime.
Demopolis came out firing in the third period and took the lead back, and put a little bit of space between themselves and Greenville. Demopolis had a 27-22 lead going into the final period.
In the fourth, Greenville battled back and took a lead with five minutes to play in the game, 35-34. Demopolis later tied the game at 36, but Greenville got the lead back with 38.7 seconds left on the clock, 38-36, when Marlon Davidson put back a Kent Riley miss.
An empty possession by Demopolis followed by free throws by Greenville left Demopolis down by four with just 27.3 to play.
Wilson went down the floor on the ensuing possession and nailed a three-pointer to bring his team back within one, 40-39. Demopolis fouled, and Greenville’s Cheatham knocked down both free throws to bring the lead back up to three points with just 7.3 seconds left on the clock.
“Cheatham has come up with clutch free throws late in the game for us for the past four games,” Kelly said.
“He is calm on the line.”
Cheatham finished with 10 points.
Davidson led the Tigers with 13 points.
“We have battled Demopolis all year,” Kelly said. “(Demopolis) is a well-coached team. We split with them during the regular season, so I challenged my guys to finish the series.”