Greenwood’s boys’ basketball game Thursday at county rival Edinburgh served as a microcosm for the Woodmen’s season.
It was a rough start that turned into a victorious ending.
Greenwood, which started the season 0-9, trailed 47-36 with 3:04 remaining. The Woodmen, who have now won five of their past seven games, scored the game’s next 10 points, then won it on a 3-pointer by Jaren Hornbeak at the buzzer, completing an improbable 54-53 victory.
The Class 4A Woodmen improved to 5-11 overall, but Thursday’s victory against the 11-5 Class A Lancers looked all but impossible as the fourth quarter wound down, even on the game’s final possession.
Trailing 53-51 with 24.7 seconds remaining, Greenwood worked the ball, but Edinburgh denied all shot opportunities. Hornbeak took the ball at the top of the key with about six seconds remaining, dribbled to the left wing and fired the 3-pointer while being double-teamed. The clock expired just after the ball went through the net, prompting a wild celebration on the Greenwood bench.
“That ball seemed like it was in the air forever,” Hornbeak said of his last shot. “I was supposed to get a shot earlier, but Edinburgh knew what we were going to do and guarded it well.”
Woodmen coach Bruce Hensley said they had a couple of options out of the timeout, but neither panned out.
“At that point, you just have to create,” Hensley said. “Jaren’s the guy you want to have the ball in that situation.”
As for Edinburgh, its seemingly insurmountable lead diminished quickly.
Greenwood’s Shane Roberts hit layup with 2:56 remaining to make it 47-38 Lancers, then LaRon Patterson hit a layup and was fouled by Ryan Burton with 2:40 to go. Burton protested vigorously and was slapped with a technical foul.
The Woodmen hit two of the three ensuing foul shots to cut their deficit to 47-42. After an Edinburgh miss, Raddell Waddy hit a layup, then Hornbeak hit another layup after a Lancer turnover to cut Edinburgh’s lead to 47-46 with 2:21 remaining.
“That was a great (last-second) shot by Hornbeak, but the game didn’t come down to that,” Edinburgh coach Drew Glentzer said. “We had a nine-point lead, then we had a technical foul, a missed layup (before Waddy’s layup) and a turnover (that led to Hornbeak’s layup).
“If any of those three things doesn’t happen, that last shot doesn’t matter.”
The Lancers’ Caleb Giles, who led all scorers with 31 points, hit all four his free-throw attempts over the next 1:27 to extend Edinburgh’s lead to 51-46, but Waddy hit a 3-pointer and Hornbeak hit a layup on Greenwood’s next two possessions to tie it 51-51 with 30 seconds remaining. The Woodmen fouled Riley Price with 27 seconds left, and he hit both foul shots to give the Lancers a 53-51 lead and set up Hornbeak’s heroics.
Edinburgh hit 19 of its 22 free-throw attempts, while Greenwood connected on just 4 of 8. Giles, hit all 12 of his free throws for Edinburgh, including 9 for 9 in the fourth quarter. The Woodmen, however, forced Edinburgh into 17 turnovers and hit eight more field goals.
“We know we have to defend well; we’re not a great offensive team,” Hensley said. “We haven’t changed our defense or our offense. We’re playing more together now.”
Hornbeak led Greenwood with 16 points, all in the second half, but he had plenty of help. Petty added 12 points, while Patterson scored eight. Waddy had seven points and a game-high seven rebounds, and Roberts came off the bench to score six points and grab six boards.
Price (13 points) was the only Edinburgh player other than Giles to score more than five points. Trent Tatlock led the Lancers with six rebounds, and Nate King pulled down five boards.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy,” Glentzer said. “We shot free throws well, we defended well and we hung with a (Class) 4A school physically. It just came down to those three plays late.”
Edinburgh returns to action Saturday at Attucks. Greenwood hosts Southport on Feb. 12.