LEWISBURG — Tri-County North shocked an entire gym when the two-win Panthers upset their archrival Twin Valley South on Friday, Feb. 12.
The game, which North won 53-52, needed overtime before it was resolved. It was sent into the extra frame after senior Garrett Woodyard drained a long two with six seconds remaining in regulation.
The shot came after Woodyard missed the front end of a one-and-one in the ending minute of the fourth, as well.
“He didn’t give up; he didn’t let those missed free throws get him down. He’s a competitor and I really like him,” said North head coach Dale Spitler.
North jumped out early on South, starting the game on an 8-2 run and ending the frame on a 9-0 run, opening up a 10-point first quarter lead.
The sluggish start is not uncommon for South, who has been outscored 15 times in the first period during the course of their 22-game season.
“We have to stop starting the game out and allowing other people to outscore us in the first quarter, put us in a bind, not defend well,” said South head coach Tony Augspurger. “I don’t know what the deal is with the slow starts. We never make a shot – that is one thing. If you never make shots, and you don’t defend as well, you are not going to get off to good starts.”
After the first quarter, South did jump back in the game rather quickly, however, opening up the second on a 13-4 run before heading into halftime up 26-25.
The momentum certainly felt like it had shifted as South began putting pressure on North – creating turnovers and attacking the basket more aggressively.
But North continued to battle back, pushing a 38-all tie after three quarters of play.
Toward the end of the fourth, they even found themselves down six, but outscored South 6-0 in the last four minutes while South attempted to stall and burn as much clock as possible.
In overtime, South once again jumped out to a 52-49 lead to start. But Kurt Brinson went to the line in consecutive trips down the court, going 2-4. He hit the front end of both attempts.
On Brinson’s second miss though, Gabe Brinson grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball back in, giving North the 53-52 advantage.
“We did a good job battling back and had some good senior leadership. Kurt (Brinson) played well and Gabe (Brinson) played well. We rebounded well, hit just enough shots. Free throws at the end got a little shaky, but our defense came through. We deflected some passes and blocked some shots at the end. I’m just proud of our guys. It’s a good way to go out for them,” said Spitler. “I’m proud of our guys for not giving up on the season after all the close losses we’ve had. We stuck together and were able to pull one off on senior night.”
South’s last shot attempt fell short as North completed the upset.
“I talked to our guys before the game that either we’d have an opportunity to play well and end our season on an upnote or give Tri-County North an opportunity to make their season. The North kids and Dale did a great job. They played with a great deal of tenacity – made big shots, made free throws – they did a nice job,” said Augspurger. ““All credit goes to them. We knew going in that this makes their season. We did. It was a great ending for them.”
Kurt Brinson led North with 16 points and four rebounds while Gabe Brinson added 13 points. Woodyard chipped in eight points and six rebounds. Zach Edgin had seven points, seven assists, and six steals and Anthony Duncan put six points on the board as well.
For South, Mike Meyers led all scorers with 18 points and seven rebounds while JJ Utz had 16 points, six assists, and two steals. Jacob Bassler also added 10 points.
Heading into the post season, North opens up against Tri-Village on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Troy High School at 11 a.m.
South plays Cedarville at Troy High School on Saturday, Feb. 20, with a scheduled start time of 5 p.m.