There are many battles still on the horizon for these two lake area rivals, but for at least a week West Side can claim bragging rights after defeating Concord 57-52 in an epic New Year’s Eve overtime battle that featured multiple lead changes.
The second-seeded Eagles (17-6) erased a three-point deficit in the final minute to force overtime, then took an early lead and held tight in the final minute, securing the Greers Ferry Lake Classic Championship with two free throws from tournament MVP Logan Bailey.
With the defending champion Pirates (22-4) doubling down on Bailey the entire game, West Side’s senior point guard displayed patience, allowing center Ben Hargrove and forward Tanner Galeazzi to take over the paint.
“I thought it was obvious that Hargrove was the difference,” said West Side Coach Benny Brown. “He did a good job of getting it in the basket and opened it up for some guys to hit some threes. They [Concord] have a super team and it was a great ballgame. We just never quit and it seemed like we picked up some momentum after Hargrove had such a good first half.”
Reigning tournament MVP Jacob Roark, a junior, led the Pirates with a game-high 24 points, but Brown said the Eagles did a good job of making him work for looks at the basket. “You are not going to stop a kid like that. He plays too hard, but at least you can know where he is at and our defense responded and did a good job of that.”
The Cleburne County foes clash again in a 1A-2 Conference showdown on Tuesday at Concord. The Pirates won all four meetings last year, but the Eagles now hold a 1-0 edge in the rivalry this season. “We have to go over to their place on Tuesday and we have had some trouble playing over there in the past. It seems like we do okay against them at home and at places like tonight [neutral] except for at Southside last year when they ran it up on us,” said Brown. “They have a really good team. In my opinion they have the best in this classification. But, if they are that good and we beat them that makes me feel pretty good about our team.”
In front of a packed house at Glenn Hackett Fieldhouse, West Side outscored Concord 16-15 in the first quarter.
With the Eagles trailing by one, guard Keaton Sutterfield ripped a three-pointer from right corner then he slashed down left baseline for a layup before Roark swiped a steal, which led to a three-pointer from left wing by forward Hanse Bowman, leaving West Side with a 16-15 edge entering the second quarter.
West Side guard Bryce Hipp sparked the Eagles in the second stanza, using a crossover to reach the basket for two layups then Hipp drilled a pair of three-pointers, including a deep trey from left elbow as the Eagles extended their lead to 28-21.
Page 2 of 2 - Following a free throw from Hargrove, the Pirates closed the first half with a quick 6-0 spurt as Bowman hit a leaner in traffic, Roark added a pull up jumper from left wing and Bowman scored again ¬ this time on a steal and layup, cutting Concord’s halftime deficit to a bucket at 29-27.
West Side maintained its two-point advantage in the third quarter, taking a five-point lead on a powerful post move from Hargrove, but Roark swiped a steal and finished while drawing contact with 50.3 seconds remaining in the period. Roark completed the three-point play, leaving the Eagles with a 41-39 lead entering the final eight minutes of regulation.
Concord used a 5-0 run to jump on top in the fourth quarter as power forward Ethan Hebert hit a free throw, Roark pulled down a rebound and drove coast-to-coast for a layup and swingman Ryan Cornelison turned a steal into two free throws.
West Side responded when Bailey used a smooth spin move to reach the lane then split two defenders and dropped a whirling scoop shot. Cornelison fired back with four straight, including a jumper from right elbow that gave the Pirates a 48-45 lead, causing the Eagles to call for timeout with 1:03 left in regulation.
Hargrove delivered two clutch free throws as the Eagles looked inside after the timeout then Concord missed the front end of a one and one and West Side capitalized when Bailey grabbed a loose ball and drew a foul with 15.2 seconds left.
Bailey hit the second free throw, tying the game at 48-all, and the Eagles held tight in the final seconds, sending the heated battle to overtime.
In the four-minute overtime, West Side immediately took command as Hargrove won the jump ball, setting up a
layup by Galeazzi off a driving assist from Sutterfield, who drew a defender and dished inside for the basket.
Both teams went scoreless until Galeazzi rattled home a free throw with 1:48 remaining then Bailey found Galleazzi inside for two more points and Hargrove added a strong baseline drive for a layup, pushing the Eagles’ lead to 55-48.
Roark retaliated with a pull up jumper in transition and the Eagles missed the front end of a one and one, leaving the door open for a Pirate comeback and Hebert took advantage with a pair of free throws.
With West Side leading 55-52 after both teams missed scoring opportunities, Bailey hit two free throws with 11.2 seconds left, capping West Side’s run to the championship.
Following Roark’s game-high 24 points, Cornelison added eight, while Hebert and Bowman each finished with seven.
Hargrove and Hipp each scored 15 points to pace West Side, Galeazzi followed with 13, while Bailey and Sutterfield each scored seven.