The host Batesville Bulldogs refused to go quietly in their second matchup of the year with Greensburg (Jan. 10). In the end, though, the Pirates notched their 13th win of the year, 60-55, and 6th consecutive over BHS dating back to December 2016.
"Frankly, if you want to beat these guys in the sectional, you've got to find a different gear," said BHS coach Aaron Garrett. "There are some things you just can't simulate. You've got to push through fatigue and run a step faster, but it's easier said than done."
The Pirates had finally secured some separation late in the third quarter on a drive by junior Andrew Welage, putting the visitors up 10 at 44-34. After the Bulldogs sliced the lead to 6 early in the fourth on Robert Raver and Trey Heidlage hoops, a feed to senior Cole Carder and Drew Comer's transition score put Greensburg ahead 48-38.
Following a BHS timeout, Heidlage put in fast-break points. With the clock moving under four minutes, Bulldog senior Austin Siefert stripped Lane Sparks beneath the basket and headed downcourt only to be rejected by Welage. The ball caromed into the hands of Comer, who took a dribble and passed ahead to Sparks; the sophomore laid it in, was fouled by Raver and completed the 3-point play. The Pirates had their largest lead at 51-40.
Siefert made it a 7-point game on a steal/conversion and a pair of free throws. With 1:38 left, Raver knocked in a 3-pointer to make it 52-47; the big man would finish with a game-high 23 points.
After a Pirate miss at the line, Raver found teammate Charlie Dice behind the arc. The latter obliged by connecting, putting the Dogs within one possession at 52-50 and firing up the crowd. Breaking the press, Comer sank 2 foul shots and Raver answered with a baseline drive. After a timeout, Welage got open behind the pressure and flushed the visitors ahead 56-52. He would add four charities (all double bonus) in the final minute.
Garrett explained how this and many other games shake out.
"At any level of basketball, it always comes down to (1 or 2) possessions," he said. "It's not 'most teams win,' it's 'most teams lose games.'
"You think about (tonight)," he added. "We get beat on some layups and rotations, or not coming up with key rebounds. We had looks that didn't go down in the first half, and missed the front end of two one-and-ones in the fourth. In tough games like this, those add up and become very costly."
An early Heidlage 3 had the hosts up 5-2 and a pair of Raver buckets made it 9-6. The Bucs scored the next 4 to take a 1-point lead before RJ Powell dished to fellow sophomore Sam Voegele for an 11-10 lead. But Sparks laid one in on the break to force the Dogs into catch-up mode the rest of the night.
Comer's three to beat the first-quarter buzzer put the Pirates up 15-11 and sparked the senior to a nice second frame. He'd hit another from deep to make it 18-13 before Raver later tied it with 5 consecutive.
Greensburg got back-to-back 3-point plays from Comer and Cam Adams to start an 8-0 run. Comer added another basket and Sparks made it 30-25 at halftime. Shots by Dice, senior Tyler Myers and Raver kept BHS within shouting distance.
Comer stayed hot with 7 points early in the second half, putting the Bucs up by 7 at 37-30. Sparks got a run-out midway through the third, leading to a 7-4 Greensburg run to close the frame.
In support of Raver, Heidlage and Dice each garnered 9 points. Siefert and Voegele scored 6 apiece. Comer was high-point man for the guests with 22, while Sparks added 13 and Welage 10.
"Was our guys' effort tremendous? Absolutely," said Garrett. "We fought through, our heads are up.
"Credit to Greensburg," he went on. "They have talented offensive guys and are 13-1 for a reason. But we have 11 games to get ready for sectional, and we'll take advantage of every single one."
Batesville (6-5, 1-1 Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference) will host Franklin County Friday on Garrett's Gang night, then turn around for another conference game at Connersville Saturday. The Pirates improved to 4-0 in EIAC play.
The visitors also won the reserve game, 56-47. Batesville led 10-5 after one quarter.
Jacob Deutsch (15), Lleyton Ratcliffe (14) and Seth Gausman (12) were all in double figures offensively. Bill Lynam, Alex Siefert and Cole Werner scored 2 each.
Will Fehlinger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 112.