The Batesville Herald-Tribune
---- — 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.
What would normally turn into a blowout victory for the Pirates did not this time. The Bulldogs dug in and battled the defending champs to the end.
The Bulldogs outscored the Pirates 24-16 over the final eight minutes.
Blake Walsman gave the Bullldogs a lift with a three-point play to open the fourth quarter and quickly got the margin to 11 points. Later with McIntosh forced to the bench for a brief stint with four fouls, a 3-pointer by McKinney trimmed the lead to 46-39.
After a three point play by Sellers, Batesville was able to cut the deficit to five points on a pair of free throws by Walsman and a Hoeing 3-pointer with 3:41 to play in the game.
The Bulldogs got as close as four points on a field goal by Walsman at the 2:46 mark and later on a pair of McKinney free throws with 1:18 remaining.
Greensburg made free throws down the stretch when they mattered most. McIntosh was 2-of-2 and Sellers went 4-of-4 as the Pirates held on for the victory.
Hoeing finished with a game-high 31 points against a talented Pirate defense. Walsman was second on the team and the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
Sellers set the pace for coach Stacy Meyer’s crew with 21 points followed by McIntosh with 18. Welage added 11 points.
The Pirates (24-1) move on to the regional round and will play Silver Creek (15-8) at Washington High School. Evansville Memorial (16-6) and Jasper (14-9) fill the other side of the bracket.
An impressive season comes to an end for the Bulldogs. Batesville finished with a record of 18-4 with three of the losses coming to the Pirates and other to Columbus East.
“We say goodbye to seven seniors that led us with high character, class and effort,” Garrett commented. “They have added a very successful chapter to Batesville basketball.”
Batesville (55) McKinney 9, Kase 0, Dennis 0, Hoeing 31, Walsman 11, Longstreth 4, Gowan 0.
Greensburg (61) Holdsworth 3, Rigney 6, Welage 11, Sellers 21, McIntosh 18, Lawrence 2.