It would be hard to believe there was a better atmosphere for basketball in the entire state on Saturday.
Basketball fans nearly filled the 5,100-seat Greensburg High School gymnasium to watch the No. 1 ranked Greensburg Pirates battle the No. 8 Batesville Bulldogs for the Class 3A, Sectional 29 title.
The defending state champion Pirates cleared what might be one of the biggest hurdles in their quest to return to the IHSAA State finals. Greensburg held off a fourth quarter rally to beat the Bulldogs by a score of 61-55.
“Two great teams playing a great game and it is unfortunate one team had to lose,” BHS head coach Aaron Garrett commented. “I am proud of the guys fighting back from 14-point deficit after the third.”
The Bulldogs trailed 45-31 entering the final eight minutes.
Leading up to the final quarter, the Pirates seemed to be in control. Still, the Bulldogs were within striking distance.
The Bulldogs took a 9-8 lead on a Bryan Hoeing 3-pointer in the first quarter.
The Pirates, like they do in nearly every game, made a run to separate themselves from their opponents. Greensburg scored the final eight points of the first quarter to take a 16-9 lead at the break.
The margin hovered around six to eight points most of the second quarter. The Bulldogs cut the Greensburg lead to six on a couple occasions - once on a three-point play by Hoeing and again on a field goal by Wes McKinney at the 2:38 mark.
The host Pirates entered halftime with a 28-20 lead.
Hoeing, who scored 16 of the team’s 20 first half points, continued his efforts in the third quarter. The junior standout scored Batesville’s first four points of the second half to account for 20 of the team’s first 24 points of the game.
The Pirates made a couple small runs and extended their lead to 37-24 on back-to-back field goals by Bryant McIntosh and Ryan Welage. A pair of Welage free throws and a dunk by Sean Sellers pushed the Greensburg lead 14 points to start the fourth quarter.