HENRYVILLE — Open field goal attempts were about as easy to come by as open seats in an at-capacity Furnish Gymnasium Tuesday, but visiting Silver Creek managed to score just enough and just in time to get past Henryville 38-34 in both teams’ season opener.
With the win, the Dragons avenged last season’s 50-47 homecourt heartbreaker, and they did it by utilizing their advantages – size, strength, depth and a seated Nick Walker.
The Henryville senior standout, who incidentally scored his 1,000th career point during the second quarter Tuesday, spent much of the second half on the bench in foul trouble. During those nine minutes, Silver Creek employed a half-court trap defense which limited Henryville’s looks at the basket. It also took the Hornets out of the spread offense they’d been using to keep the game at their tempo up to that point.
“When Nick is on the bench, we’re not as good a team as we can be,” Henryville coach Jared Hill said. “But we didn’t execute late in the game. We were out-manned and outsized. We’d been able to overcome that early on but we made some bonehead plays there toward the end, and in the last two minutes, Silver Creek just played better than we did.”
The Hornets held the lead through more than three quarters of play Tuesday, albeit not by much. The largest lead they managed was five points at 20-15, which happened when Walker nailed a free throw line jumper to put him in the elite 1,000-point club three and a half minutes into the second half.
Immediately after that, though, the guard picked up his fourth foul on a made putback by Creek forward Sammy Barnett, who hit the ensuing free throw. After that, Walker didn’t see any significant minutes again until 4:20 remained in the game.
During that time, the Dragon’s defense held Henryville to just two field goals, while improving upon their own atrocious 3-for-23 first-half showing to shoot 5 for 9. Free throws were the only think keeping the Hornets alive during that stretch. They shot 6 of 6 from the line and held a 30-28 lead with six minutes left in the game.
A big bucket by Barnett quite possibly turned the tide in the Dragons’ favor for good. The senior decidedly grabbed a quick offensive board off a teammate’s missed free throw and dropped it in to tie the score at 30-30 at the 5:44 point. Henryville never led again after that.
“I knew when I was standing on the line that I had to get that rebound if he missed it,” Barnett said. “We needed to score. We needed those points right then.”
Barnett finished the night with nine points and eight rebounds, five of which were on the offensive end.
“It’s awesome to come in here and get a big win like this at their place after that close loss on our floor last year,” he added.
Even still, the game belonged to anyone even in the dwindling minutes.
Henryville’s only field goal in the fourth quarter came with 1:35 remaining when senior guard Kendall Dunn intercepted a pass, breaking up the Dragons’ spread and took it in for an easy layup. Fifteen ticks later, Silver Creek’s Jack Hawkins scored off a pass from teammate Hunter Popp, giving the Dragons the 36-34 advantage.
Silver Creek’s size and strength came up big with key rebounds off three Henryville misses in the last minute. Barnett sealed the win at the free throw line with 5.5 seconds left.
“Good teams find ways to win even when they don’t play well,” Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman said. “They came up big when we needed them to tonight.”
SILVER CREEK 38, HENRYVILLE 34
Silver Creek 9 3 12 14–38
Henryville 10 6 10 8–34
Silver Creek (1-0): Zane Gross 12, Jack Hawkins 12, Sammy Barnett 9, Ty Kessinger 3, Bennett Beyl 2.
Henryville (0-1): Nick Walker 10, Thomas Green 10, Kasey Robertson 8, Kendall Dunn 4, Kade Badger 2.
3-point field goals: Henryville 0; Silver Creek 1 (Beyl).
Rebounds: Henryville 25 (Robertson 7); Silver Creek 33 (Barnett 8).
~story provided by newsandtribune.com~