Team play carried Pirates down stretch

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

March 26, 2013

Indianapolis — For the first three quarters of Greensburg’s state championship win Saturday over Fort Wayne Concordia, the Pirates appeared uncharacteristically timid and out of sync. The Cadets led the Pirates by 10 points at halftime and built a 12-point lead in the third quarter. Shots were falling for Concordia, while Greensburg struggled to convert both from long range and in the paint.

Greensburg needed to adjust, and adjust quickly.

Despite 3-pointers by juniors and Collin Rigney and Macy Holdsworth, their team still trailed 46-36 with 2:47 left in the third quarter.

As the clock ticked closer and closer to the end of regulation, the Pirates sought answers. FWC senior Thomas Starks and junior D.J. McCall kept the margin at double digits with seven and five points, respectively.

Greensburg, though, stayed with its game plan and continued to fight against a physical opponent. Two other junior starters, Bryant McIntosh and Sean Sellers, realized it was time to step up and go to work.

Greensburg cut the deficit to single digits for good with 2:27 left in the third. McIntosh hit a jumper, and after McCall missed the back end of a pair at the line, McIntosh made it a seven-point game with a jumper in the paint.

McIntosh was not finished. Out of a media timeout, he made a layup off an assist from Rigney, pulling to within five. Sellers later hit a layup to end the third at 49-44.

However, the Cadets pushed it back to seven with four points from senior Brian Gremaux, their 6-foot-7 big man.

Greensburg continued to chip away at the lead as scores in the paint by senior Tyler Burcham and Sellers signaled a turning of the tide.

Meanwhile, McCall and Gremaux had picked up their fourth fouls just 30 seconds apart.

Playing team defense and scoring with the clock stopped proved to be the difference in the game’s final eight minutes. Sellers shot 4-for-4 from the stripe, making it a three-point game at 57-54.

After a McCall free throw, Sellers tipped in a shot that made it 58-56 with 2:54 left. Rigney grabbed a defensive rebound that led to a game-tying layup by McIntosh.

Sellers picked up his fifth foul, disqualifying him with 48 seconds left in regulation.

Starks made just one of the two ensuing free throws, and the score remained 59-58 Cadets until McIntosh picked up his third foul with 33 seconds left. McCall sank both at the line, making it 61-58.

Going into possibly its last possession of the season, Greensburg was facing elimination. Just five seconds later, it came down to McIntosh and his defender, 6-foot-6 senior guard Marq Rogers. McIntosh dribbled down the court, stopped at the top of the key, and released a 3-pointer that went through the nylon for the tie.

“If he backed off of me, I knew coming down that we needed a three, and I was confident enough in my jump shot that I would step into that and knock it down,” said McIntosh. “He backed up a couple steps, so I pulled it, and it felt good coming out of my hand. I was pretty ecstatic when it went in.”

The lead changed five times in the extra session. McIntosh shot 4-for-4 from the foul line, and Welage added four points to help tame the Cadets. McIntosh gave the Pirates its lasting lead with 1:09 to go. Rigney added a layup with 22 seconds left, and the Pirates grabbed rebounds off two missed triples as the time expired.

Sellers said he had faith that his team could pull out the win without him.

“Personally, I wasn’t really upset. I knew that we’d keep fighting,” said Sellers of missing the final five minutes of the game. “Bryant hit that three to tie it up, and Welage kept rebounding and sticking with it. I knew if we kept fighting, we’d have a pretty good chance to win.”

Burcham described the role he played off the bench.

“I like to use my athleticism on defense,” he said. “I understand my role. I understand I’m not going to be the best basketball player, but I’ll be smart. It’s a great feeling. I’ve never been here. I’ve been close, but I’ve never been here. It’s awesome.”

Meyer noted that it took an effort from the entire team, and that every last play mattered.

“I know Sean and Bryant carried us tonight like they have all year, but it’s little plays,” he said. “It’s Tyler Burcham coming in and getting a steal with eight seconds to go. It’s all those little plays. Burch puts full-court pressure on (Ryan Gross), which I thought was key there in the second half, too, kind of just get them out of their rhythm. Once they had the lead, they got comfortable running their offense. Those are the things they’ve done all year, too. There in the third, we made a push. Our role players stepped up and did their good job again tonight.”

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