Nick Crays and Kelby Byrer had scored 28 of North Daviess' 37 points. But the defensive attention from visiting Eastern Greene should have been on Wes Lengacher.
North Daviess (15-6, 5-3 Southwestern Indiana) defeated Eastern Greene (13-8, 5-3), 39-37, on two Lengacher free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining in regulation Friday at the Cougar Den.
With the score tied at 37, North Daviess had an out of bounds play underneath its own basket. Byrer found Lengacher streaking to the basket, and the senior forward was fouled by Tyler Brough on a shot attempt. Lengacher knocked down both free throw attempts.
"It's our 21st game of the season, we've got everything that we're going to have in, and we should know everything we have," said North Daviess coach Brent Dalrymple.
"It's not an out of bounds play we use very often, but we knew it. A couple coaches looked at me to call a timeout, but I said we know it. Our kids are just mentally into the game." Facing a five-point deficit with 3:58 remaining, North Daviess looked like it was headed toward a tough loss.
With 1:57 to play, Crays connected on his second 3-pointer of the night, and then the senior guard tied the game to on a layup with 61 seconds to play.
Crays' quick five points equaled the point total he had up to that point.
"When it's on the line, there's no one else I'd rather have than that boy," Dalrymple said. "He is a very determined individual." Kurtis Stille had a golden opportunity to give the Thunderbirds the lead with 36 seconds remaining, but he missed an open layup. North Daviess grabbed the rebound and had possession with half a minute to play.
The first quarter saw seven lead changes with neither team holding a lead larger than three points. North Daviess tied the score at 10 on a Crays 3-pointer with five seconds remaining.
Eastern Greene started the second quarter on a 9-2 run to push the lead to 19-12. After a Kelby Byrer layup, Tyler Brough pushed the lead to eight with a 3-pointer. North Daviess cut back into the lead with consecutive baskets from Byrer.
Eastern Greene scored the final two baskets of the half to push the lead back to eight points, 26-18, at halftime. Brough led all scorers after 16 minutes with 16 points.
Byrer carried the Cougars on the offensive end with 18 points, but North Daviess was able to overcome the eight-point halftime deficit with defensive pressure. Brough scored 16 points in the first half, and hit four 3-pointers. He managed only five second half points, all in the fourth quarter.
"Number one, he (Brough) was making some really tough shots," Dalrymple said. "He came out on a dead run and hit his first three, and then he hit a step back 22-footer. We thought he would miss a few of those - my goodness - if he's going to hit shots like that he's going to play at IU. We kept running fresh people at him, and Alex (Wittmer) and (Dusten) Cook guarded him in the first half. We also brought a third guy in, Tyler Hostetter, who did not play in the first half came in and did a tremendous job being physical with him." North Daviess has a bye in the first round of the Class A Sectional 63 tournament at Loogootee, awaiting the winner of Loogootee and Vincennes Rivet its semi-final matchup Friday night.
Dalrymple said the team will relish the time off, and treat it like a normal week.
"The great thing is with the bye it's like any other week for us, minus that you're at Loogootee with 3,000 people in the stands. It will be normal preparation. We know all of the teams in the sectional."