GREENCASTLE -- A make-up contest between Greencastle's boys' basketball team and Owen Valley was not only a chance for the Tiger Cubs to get a look at one of the squads in their sectional but a chance to build off the momentum created by holding off Southmont last Friday.
A 17-point first-half from Nick Hutcheson helped propel Greencastle to a seven-point lead, one that would not dissipate in a 61-54 win Tuesday night.
Owen Valley's hot shooting in the first quarter was cancelled out by multiple chance possessions from the Tiger Cubs. In particular, Hutcheson extended plays, putting away all four of his first quarter baskets after a missed shot.
The lead bounced back and forth through most of the first quarter and the early part of the second quarter, before Greencastle began to slow down the Patriot offense. The visitors only scored three times from the floor, whereas second chance points allowed the hosts to gain a 36-29 at the halftime break.
The visitors' use of the three point shot kept them afloat during the third quarter, knocking down four of them to take the lead briefly at 39-38. The Tiger Cubs eventually tied the game at 42-42 before closing the quarter on a 10-3 run.
Still holding a seven-point lead at 52-45 entering the fourth quarter, Greencastle's offense began to stall, allowing the Patriots to close to within three at 53-50 before J.T. Hennette knocked down a jumper to extend the lead to five.
With the chance to extend the lead twice, Greencastle missed the front end of one-and-ones to give Owen Valley a shot at closing the lead. The defense held up, forcing turnovers and challenging shots, with Hayden Stuckwisch getting a key block with 47 seconds left as a three-point shot was being taken.
Brad Haussin knocked down four free throws in the final minutes to stretch the lead back to seven and ease the pressure on the Tiger Cubs, who held on to secure their 11th win on the year.
Greencastle head coach Troy Greenlee said that with three even quarters of play, the second quarter was the crucial point of the game.
"In the first quarter, they were hitting shots, but I don't think we contested shots very well. Second quarter, we challenged our guys as [Ethan] Hoadley had 10 points in the first quarter, we challenged our guys to not let him get those open looks. I don't know that he scored in the second quarter, which was big," Greenlee said.
"We were able to continue to put the ball in the hole a little bit and step it up defensively. I thought that second quarter was really, really big. If you look at it the rest of the way, everything was even, so the second quarter was huge.
"Guys stepped up in the fourth quarter. After we missed a couple of free throws, Brad Haussin came in and hit some big free throws at the end. We made enough plays to win. We're not exactly where we want to be yet, but I think that was a good step for us," Greenlee added.
When asked about the fourth quarter's slow beginning, Greenlee pointed out what the gameplan was for the day.
"We wanted to get the ball out more than we did tonight. We wanted to get the pace of the game faster than we normally do. Owen Valley did a good job of keeping it a lower possession game. There's always a balance you want to keep in a situation like that," Greenlee said.
"We knew that they weren't going to give us a ton of possessions, so we wanted to make sure we got a good shot, but we didn't attack as hard as I thought maybe we should have at times. Any time you're in that situation, you have to have that balance of still attack but making good decisions when you attack."
With Senior Night Friday against Northmont and the sectional opener against Edgewood next Tuesday, Greenlee hopes to use this game as a blueprint for success.
"We drew Edgewood, so we know they're going to come in and pressure us pretty hard next Tuesday, so we've got to be able to handle the ball. I think that we had seven turnovers tonight, which is what we need. We need to have a low turnover game. I think we out-rebounded (Owen Valley) by nine on the offensive end," Greenlee said.
"We had a challenge for them tonight: to get plus 10 on the offensive rebounds and no more than 10 turnovers and they almost got both of them tonight. Those are things that we thought, as a coaching staff, if we can do those two things, and playing like we normally play, we have a chance of being competitive."
"Northmont is going to be similar to what we face in the sectional. They maybe don't have the outstanding player they've had in the past years, but they're very solid and they're going to be a big test for us."
Owen Valley 20 9 16 9 - 54
Greencastle 20 16 16 9 - 61
Owen Valley - Hoadley 19, Hight 14, Parker 9, Allen 9, Sparks 2, Vest 1
Greencastle - Hutcheson 26, Haussin 12, Lewis 6, Stuckwisch 6, Carr 4, Hennette 4, Moore 3
Next Game: Greencastle hosts Northmont on Senior Night Friday.