ANDERSON -- Greenwood came into Wednesday night's game against T.L. Hanna shorthanded. With the team missing its core group of players in Jordan Coleman, Markevious Morgan and Sam Pinckney, this should've been a cake walk for the Yellow Jackets. But instead, the Eagles pushed the No. 1 seeded team to the brink, losing just 86-83.
"I told my team that they kept competing," said Kelcey Stevens, Greenwood's head boys' basketball coach. "We did a good job of not quitting. Things aren't going to go the way you want them to go sometimes but its always how you bounce back."
Behind the play of Donovan Williams, who finished with a team high 23 points, Javarion Calhoun and Jabious Rose, the team remained a confident bunch throughout.
"They (Williams, Calhoun and Rose) did tonight what they've been doing all year. The guys spread the load. They did an extremely great job and all of them will be returning."
Though the Eagles were leading to end the first, two consecutive buckets in the paint by T.L. Hanna’s A.J. Bryant cut the lead to two, 14-12 heading into the second period.
One would think this would hurt the Eagles to start the second quarter, but with 4:10 left until half, Greenwood owned a 22-17 lead.
Stephon Elmore got into the action before half, too, adding in 8 points and 18 for the game.
Stevens kept going back to his team's confidence and resolve as the main reason it remained in the game.
"It's nothing we haven't faced before," Stevens said. "We split with them in the regular season. But for various reasons, we've had guys down all year, but we didn't make excuses."
An and-1 basket gave the Yellow Jackets their first lead, 31-30, but Greenwood, as they had all night, responded with its own, taking a 33-31 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was when the Eagles thought they could win.
Rose, who finished with 12 points, hit a key three to put his team ahead, 49-47, going into the fourth quarter. And as much noise was made about the team’s lack of size, Greenwood’s Dre Butler harassed T.L. Hanna’s big men.
"Once our bigs were able to adjust, we did a good job of walling things up in the interior despite what we were missing down there," Stevens said.
At the end of the fourth quarter, it looked as if the Eagles had the game. Rose hit two clutch free throws to make the game 66-62. But a bucket and a pair of free throws with 2.7 seconds left evened the score, sending it into overtime.
One overtime wasn’t enough, either. Both teams matched each other on the offensive end, knotting the score up, 75-75.
The second overtime was when the Yellow Jackets got the best of Greenwood.
"We left some plays on the court at the end," Stevens said. "Missed free throws and missed layups hurt us and the other team took advantage of it."
But Stevens was happy for his team's effort despite letting this one slip away.
"They've been through adversity all year," Stevens said. "They battled. I'm extremely proud of them."