LEETON — The season came down to one shot for the Green Ridge Tigers on Saturday night in the Class 1, District 8 boys basketball title game.
Brett Shoop’s fadeaway jumper at the buzzer bounced off the front of the rim, and the Leeton Bulldogs survived a furious Green Ridge rally to escape with a 57-56 win.
Green Ridge, which had trailed 51-40 with 3:05 left in the game, nearly completed the dramatic comeback to prolong its season.
“We never gave up,” said Green Ridge coach Paul Fletcher. “The third quarter kind of killed us. We kind of fell asleep and they made a run at us. We changed some things around with about 4 minutes left in the game and we hit some key 3-point shots that brought us back in it.”
The Tigers began the game with a full-court press that disrupted the Leeton offense and some hot perimeter shooting.
Zak Tylar keyed the early offense, scoring eight of his 11 points in the first quarter, as Green Ridge grabbed an 18-13 lead after one.
Tylar and teammate Michael Ebeling each had two 3-pointers early, and Chris Pottorff had one as the Tigers lit up the Leeton defense from the outside.
Leeton countered the outside shooting with a power game inside led by 6-foot-6 Zach Dady. Dady, who led all scorers with 20 points, pounded away in the lane, helping Leeton take a 21-20 lead.
Green Ridge responded to the Leeton push with more perimeter shooting, as Shoop hit his first two baskets of the game to put the Tigers in front 29-25 at halftime.
The Tigers got defensive stops as they retook the lead, forcing Leeton into a number of quick passes that sailed out of bounds.
The third quarter belonged to Leeton. The Bulldogs continued to go inside to Dady, but they got a pair of 3-pointers from Brad Ditty as they opened up a 44-38 lead heading into the fourth.
While Leeton was having success on offense, the Tigers were struggling to score. With the outside shots not falling, Green Ridge got some scoring out of Aaron Keele inside.
Keele, who finished with 12 points, used his quickness to maneuver around the bigger Dady in the lane and keep Green Ridge within striking distance.
Leeton appeared to be running away with the game in the first 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Pottorff went to the bench because of foul trouble and an injured ankle, but the Tigers turned up the full-court pressure and began to get back into the game.
A 3-pointer by Ebeling cut the Leeton lead to 52-46 with 2:25 remaining, and Shoop’s final 3-pointer with 1:10 left reduced the Bulldogs’ lead to 57-56.
On the ensuing Leeton possession, Dady was called for a 5-second violation, giving the ball back to Green Ridge with 32 seconds on the clock.
Following a Green Ridge timeout with 16 seconds left, Shoop weaved around and through the Leeton defense before launching the game’s final shot.
Shoop led the Tigers with 14 points, and Pottorff finished with 10 while battling foul trouble.