Diamonte Grant’s 23-point effort was the most efficient display of hard work, but it wasn’t the only example in a feverish, frenzied 1-point loss to Greenwood Christian on Tuesday night at Laurens Academy.
The Hawks won the boys’ basketball game 55-54 and the girls’ 56-35.
Technically, the game was lost when Grant’s nearly full-court heave sailed left and short at the buzzer, but it slipped away in the final 5 minutes, 11 seconds of the second quarter when Greenwood Christian outscored the Crusaders 18-5 to take a 10-point halftime lead at 32-22. The lead was nine (45-36) entering the final quarter.
Laurens Academy (3-6) spent that final eight minutes in overdrive, putting up 20 of its 49 shots, grabbing 15 of its 32 rebounds and committing just 2 of its 15 turnovers. The Crusaders never led after the second quarter but pulled to within a point on Clarence Bertoli’s 3-pointer with five seconds to play. They only hit 5 of those 20 shots but forced 6 turnovers and outrebounded the Hawks, 15-8.
The rally was not without consequences as the Crusaders collected two technical fouls, one to head coach Travis Plowden. Grant scored 8 points in the final quarter.
“We lost our composure at times, and I lost my composure myself at one point in the game, upset about a call,” Plowden said, “but I was really proud of our effort, especially late in the game.
“We were down seven with a minute left. A lot of teams would not have been able to make that kind of run. We had a shot to win at the end. It was a long shot, but we still had one.”
Thomas Lowry, who had been out for three games with mononucleosis, scored 11 points for the Crusaders, followed by Andrew Codington with 8, Bertoli with 7, Colton McGee with 3 and Buddy Baker with 2.
Greenwood Christian’s point guard, Alex Stanley, was precise and unflappable, hitting 7-of-8 free throws and scoring a trio of 3-pointers amidst his 20 points. Jackson Farmer scored 8; Joseph Brisher and Owen Wittington each had 6.
“I can’t fault our guys. They played really, really hard. Everybody wants to focus on the fourth quarter, but we had a really bad period in the second quarter that really put us behind the 8-ball. That was the big problem,” Plowden said.
After a fast start, the LA girls withered gradually in the face of Greenwood Christian’s pressure. After outrebounding the Hawks 11-2 in the first quarter, the visitors held the edge 34-16 the rest of the way. The Hawks – paced by Carolina Reed with 23 points, Nicole Shirley with 12 and Kennedy Kattz with 11 – connected on 23-of-44 field goals; Laurens Academy (4-5) hit 11-of-49.
Olivia Huck led the Crusaders with 16 points, followed by Payton Breen with 9, S.G. Natiello wih 4 and Elissa Hucks with 2.
Laurens Academy did force 25 Greenwood Christian turnovers, committing only 19, but the Hawks won the rebounding battle 36-27. More than anything else, it was shooting, or lack of it, that doomed the Crusaders.