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PREP BASKETBALL:Van Buren works overtime to down Greenbrier

January 8, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

VAN BUREN -- The Van Buren Pointers grabbed victory from the clutches of defeat on Friday night.

Van Buren led just once in regulation and seized control early in overtime for a 52-49 win over Greenbrier at Clair Bates Arena in the 5A-West opener for both schools.

"It was interesting," Van Buren coach Brad Autry said. "I'm incredibly proud of how they hung in there. It took everything we had. We had to get this one to be relevant in this race. This was the first step of a long conference season. Against all odds, they found a way."

After Van Buren (8-5, 1-0) took its only lead of regulation at 39-38, Greenbrier coach Mike Simmons took a quick timeout. Jack Runsick drove for a bucket and then converted a three-point play before Rece Jones hit a pair of free throws as Greenbrier (9-4, 0-1) responded with a 7-0 run and a 45-39 lead with 1:18 left.

Drew Brasuell canned a three-pointer for Van Buren, but Greenbrier still looked in good shape until missing six free throws over the final 48 seconds.

Glavine McDonald made the most of the opportunity for Van Buren, rattling home a long, almost desperation, three-pointer with five seconds left that tied the game at 45-45 to force overtime.

In the extra period, Van Buren scored the first five points on a three-pointer by McDonald from the corner, and single free throws by Jaxon Cazzell and Devin Mays for a 50-45 cushion with 1:28 left.

"They came back and played hard," Simmons said. "They kept it just close enough when they made a run. They made shots and we missed ours."

Elijah Weaver answered for Greenbrier, and Jones added two free throws for the Panthers to whittle Van Buren's lead to a point with 39 seconds left.

Gibran Sullivan hit two free throws for Van Buren with 34 seconds left, and the Pointers held on for the win.

Greenbrier led for all but 36 seconds of regulation, including 13-12 after a quarter, 29-18 at the half and 38-32 after three quarters.

Greenbrier hit 13 of its first 25 shots, better than 50 percent, on the road into the third quarter but managed just three field goals the rest of the way and missed six foul shots in the pivotal final minute of the fourth quarter.

"That's been a problem all year, we'll go into long stretches where we can't make free throws or shots," Simmons said. "All we have to do is make one free throw and we win the ball game. You've got to make free throws in the last minute of the ball game if you're going to win on the road in conference play. We've got to make those shots."

Van Buren played the overtime without Conner Myers, who scored 13 points and had nine rebounds before fouling out, but had contributions from Sullivan and Mays, who came off the bench.

"We had injuries, we have sickness, we had foul trouble, we had turnovers, we had missed free throws, dudes are falling out," Autry said. "They kept fighting no matter what. The game wasn't beautiful, but the way we won was absolutely beautiful."

McDonald finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Greenbrier was led by Aidan Berry's 16 points and Jones, who had 11 points.

Print Headline: Van Buren goes OT to down Greenbrier


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