GREEN RIDGE — The Green Ridge boys basketball team rallied from 10 points down in the second half and hit a buzzer-beater to force overtime but ultimately fell short as Cole Camp pulled out the 84-81 Kaysinger Conference win on Tuesday.
Tied 75-75 at the end of regulation, Cole Camp got a quick free throw and a putback from Tanner Oelrichs to take a three point lead and held on despite six points in the overtime from the Tigers’ Axton Harding.
“They’re a team that runs,” said Cole Camp coach Tom Ward. “They’re never going to be out of a ballgame with the way they shoot free throws, the way they attack the basket. I felt very comfortable early int he game but then we got in foul trouble. I liked the way a lot of our kids came of the bench and performed, which is what we’re going to need as we go down the stretch.”
Green Ridge (10-9, 4-3 Kaysinger) spent much of the game pressing but Cole Camp had success breaking it early, turning the ball over nine times in the first half and 17 in the second half.
Breaking the press in the first half often meant the Bluebirds getting an open shot for sophomore Alex Pritzel, who had 15 points in the first half alone and finished the game with 29. But late in the third quarter and early in the fourth, the Tigers press began to click, forcing 11 Cole Camp turnovers during an 18-6 Green Ridge run to take the lead.
“We just talked about rotations on defense,” said Green Ridge coach Jason Ollison. “We were allowing Pritzel to get back there and have a career night. We made him an all-conference player. We took care of it and just talked about getting back to our defense and made sure we were getting our rotations where we need to be.”
During the run, Green Ridge got a Connor Dillon basket in the paint and a Harding 3-pointer at the end of the third to cut the Cole Camp lead to 58-54. In the fourth quarter, Harding scored six points in rapid succession on a pair of free throws, a basket in the paint and a jumper. After Justin McCarthy hit a pair of free throws, Zac Callahan added a basket in the paint to put Green Ridge ahead 64-63, the Tigers’ first lead since midway through the first quarter.
The teams traded baskets over the last four minutes of the fourth quarter until Connor Balke free throws put Cole Camp ahead 75-72 with nine seconds to play. Needing a 3-pointer to tie the game, Green Ridge got one from sophomore Peyton Needy, the only points Needy would score in the game.
“He’s a great kid and he works really hard,” Ollison said. “He works his tail off when he’s here. He’s going to be a special player for us. He understands the game so well and whenever he athletically get to where he’s on the same page as some of these other guys, the sky’s the limit.”
For Cole Camp (7-10, 4-2 Kaysinger), the win in a close game comes after dropping close games at Tipton and to Holden in the third place game of the Stover Tournament.
“Finishing off big games like this, you want to see how we’d respond coming out in the overtime,” Ward said. “I liked the way our kids responded. I’m just pleased with our kids’ effort.”