WINTHROP — Nat Crocker’s game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer gave his Hall-Dale team more than enough momentum to upset rival Winthrop on Friday night.
Just as abruptly, the momentum swung back Winthrop’s way in overtime as the Ramblers got key shots from two freshmen on their way to a 63-58 win.
Hall-Dale (8-7) never led in the game during regulation and trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half. But the Bulldogs climbed back into the game in the second half. Still, they trailed 56-50 with less than 12 seconds left to play. They got a big 3 from sophomore Ryan Sinclair (20 points), and second life after the Ramblers missed two free throws. Crocker dribbled down court and found Sinclair on the right wing, but he was bottled up and passed to Crocker who hit a 3 from the right corner as the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 56.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game, 58-56 on Sinclair’s layup, but fouls caught up to the Bulldogs, who lost Brian Allen in regulation and Crocker, their point guard, in overtime. The Ramblers (12-3) were in no better shape after losing Dakota Carter to fouls and Matt Sekerak (17 points) to injury. No problem, freshman Jacob Hickey (14) hit a 3 from the top of the circle to give the Ramblers a 60-58 lead they would hang onto. Bennett Brooks, another freshman, helped seal the win by converting two free throws.
“We were forced to use our depth tonight,” Winthrop coach Todd MacArthur said. “We had a freshman, who usually doesn’t play much, step up and make two free throws when no one else could make any.”
The Ramblers missed 11 free throws, many of those in the fourth quarter, but still found a way to win.
“I figured they were going to make a run,” Winthrop junior Ben Allen said.”We’ve got to get better at closing out games.”
The Ramblers put the Bulldogs in a bind in the first half, as they pressed and ran and forced eight turnovers. Sekerak scored 11 of his points in the first half while sophomore Anthony Owens scored six and grabbed seven rebounds. Winthrop led 30-19 at the half and appeared in control of the game. But the Bulldogs scored the first six points of the third quarter to get back into the game.
“I thought we handled pressure better in the second half,” Hall-Dale coach Chris Ranslow said. “We converted.”
Wesley Lapointe (11 rebounds) and Bryson Camp (10 points, eight rebounds) hit the boards hard to give the Bulldogs some second chance opportunities and they made the most of them. It appeared that might be enough as Taylor Morang (12 points, five assists) hit a layup to make it 49-44 with 2:20 left. But the Bulldogs didn’t fold even after falling behind by eight (54-46) with 1:02 left. Camp went 4 for 4 from the line and Crocker (13 points, five assist) hit a short jumper to keep it close and set up the big shots from Sinclair and Crocker in the final 10 seconds.
“You got to hand it to them,” Allen said. “They played pretty good in the second half.”