NEW MARKET -- Nick Hutcheson is known for high-volume scoring and rebounding ability, but it was his alert defense that saved Greencastle's 61-60 victory over Southmont on the Mounties' court Friday.
Southmont had all the momentum when it in-bounded the basketball with 8.4 seconds remaining.
The Mounties got it to 6-foot Austin Burton, who raised up for a 21-foot 3-pointer from the top of the key. The 6-foot-7 Hutcheson, quick and rangy, switched from his man inside to get his hands up enough in Burton's face to change the trajectory slightly, forcing him to shoot a higher arch that usual. It hit the front of the rim, bounced left and the buzzer sounded before Southmont could get another shot off.
Maybe Burton wouldn't have made the shot anyway, but Greencastle coach Troy Greenlee didn't see it that way. Burton had started slowly, but he made his previous two 3-pointers and three of four.
"I thought Nick changed that shot and several others," Greenlee said. "It's not a stat that's kept, but it's an important part of the game."
Hutcheson was pretty good at what he's known for, too. He had 27 points and 12 rebounds and also blocked four shots.
"He's a heck of a player and a guy who means a lot to us," Greenlee said. "We ask him to do a lot for us."
Hutcheson had been bottled up by double and triple teams in the past two games, scoring a combined 21 points in losses to Monrovia and Northview.
"Nick needed one of these breakout games," Greenlee said.
Greencastle (10-7) needed it, too. The Tiger Cubs broke a three-game losing streak.
"Tonight was a gut check for us," Greenlee said. "We didn't show up for Northview. We had a hangover from our loss to Monrovia. This was a big win for us.
"We kind of wilted like we did against Monrovia, but tonight we made enough plays to win the game. Anytime you come out of a situation like this prior to the sectional and come out on top, it's a good thing for the team."
Hutcheson, double and triple-teamed by Southmont's zone, led Greencastle to a 29-20 lead at the half with 18 points.
Greenlee moved versatile Tyler Lewis from the perimeter to posting up inside at the start of the second half to take advantage of Southmont's attention on Hutcheson. The 6-foot-4 senior had 14 of his 16 points in the final two quarters, making 5-of-7 shots from the field. Lewis also had six of his eight rebounds in the second half.
"Tyler is really versatile and he created some match-up problems because they were guarding Nick so hard," Greenlee said. "Tyler had to work hard and he did a great job making plays."
Greencastle led 45-35 entering the fourth quarter.
Southmont (5-13), which had won two of its previous three, scored the opening six points of the fourth on a 3-pointer by Cody Thomas and a conventional three-point play by Trent Murray to get within 45-41.
The Tiger Cubs responded with eight straight points, four each by Hutcheson and Lewis, for a 53-41 lead.
The Mounties went into a full-court, trapping defense. The Tiger Cubs, as they had done against Monrovia in the same situation, began turning the ball over with regularity. They ended with 20 turnovers, 11 in the second half and most of those in the final four minutes.
Southmont began making shots from everywhere off the turnovers.
With help from a teammate, Burton stole the ball underneath the Tiger Cubs' basket and threw up a one-handed shot as he went to the floor that banked into the net to cut Greencastle's lead to 55-54 with 1:11 remaining.
The home crowd was going crazy in anticipation of completing the comeback.
Hutcheson made a free throw to make it 56-54. Murray missed a runner in the lane and Hutcheson went above the crowd to grab the rebound.
"That was a huge rebound," Greenlee said.
Hutcheson was fouled and made two free throws to expand Greencastle's lead to 58-54 with 53.6 seconds left.
Spencer Moore stripped the ball from a Mountie at midcourt and was fouled on a lay-up. He made both free throws and the Tiger Cubs were up by six with 43.4 on the clock.
In this game, no lead was safe.
"I give Spencer a lot of credit," Greenlee said. "He made some mistakes, but if he hangs his head, he doesn't make that play. It was a huge play. It broke their momentum at least temporarily."
Burton buried a 3-pointer for the wing at 38.1 to make it a one possession game again.
Moore was fouled, made one free throw and the Tiger Cubs were up 61-57 with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Burton banked in a 22-foot 3-pointer from the wing at 22.1
Greencastle turned the ball over at 8.4 and it could have been a fatal mistake. Hutcheson's leaping, out-stretched frame with his arms like goal posts altered Burton's shot just enough to prevent a buzzer beater.
Greencastle 13 16 16 16 -- 61
Southmont 12 8 15 25 -- 60
Moore 3-3 4-7 11, Carr 0-1 0-0 0, Hutcheson 9-16 8-10 27, Lewis 6-8 4-5 16, Stuckwisch 1-7 0-0 3, Haussin 0-4 0-1 0, Hennette 2-4 0-0 4, Lenihan 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 21-43 16-23 61.
Miller 0-4 0-0 0, McKinney 3-9 0-1 6, Cline 0-2 1-2 1, Murray 7-17 4-5 20, Burton 7-22 2-2 20, Overpeck 0-2 1-2 1, Thomas 4-8 0-0 10, Myers 1-2 0-0 2, Rash 0-0 0-0 0, Cooksey 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 22-66 8-12 60.
3-point field goals: G 3-9 (Moore 1-1, Hutcheson 1-1, Stuckwisch 1-4, Carr 0-1, Haussin 0-2), Southmont 8-29 (Burton 4-14, Thomas 2-5, Murray 2-9, Miller 0-2). Rebounds: G 36 (Hutcheson 12, Lewis 8), S 37 (McKinney 9, Myers 7, Thomas 6). Turnovers: G 20, S 10. Total fouls: G 13, S 21. Fouled out: None.