GREENVILLE – Wins for the Greenville boys basketball team 2-15 this year, have been hard to come by and the fans were highly engaged as emotions ebbed back and forth on every play and made basket in a game that went two overtimes. The Green Wave came up short in the end falling to Xenia 74-68, but the fans would receive their money’s worth and more … more being a bright future for Greenville basketball.
The two teams played back on December 17th a game Greenville lost 65-50 a positive improvement from the previous meeting.
Neither team was lighting it up early in fact Xenia led just 6-4 at the end of the 1st quarter.
But the floodgates opened in the 2nd period with Greenville coming out on top 19-16 to hold a 23-22 lead at the break.
Greenville’s offense was infused by the play of two freshman EB Fall and Eric Brenner. The duo combined for 17 of the 19 points and looked anything but freshman. With EB penetrating the lane he was able to draw a foul or pull the defense so he could dish to Brenner.
EB converted on an old-fashioned three-point play and went to the line twice while Brenner rattled home 4 triples to pick-up a stagnant offense.
In the first match-up with Xenia EB scored zero points and Brenner 3 playing limited time in a reserve role. But due to sickness sidelining Wave guard Hayden Bush and Jared DeMange along with injuries hobbling other’s the two freshmen would see a bigger role this time around and they would make the most of it.
“Obviously our young guys did a nice job filling in for our missing all conference players and they are getting valuable court time,” Greenville coach Bobby Jones said.
Xenia made halftime adjustments and was more aware of Brenner on the perimeter and tried to stop EB’s penetration. The wave scored 12 in the 3rd quarter but gave up 15 and trailed 37-35 heading into the 4thquarter.
It was a physical and wild ride in the 4th quarter and neither team would budge. Fouls called earlier in the game were no calls and every possession was important and that’s where Greenville’s senior leadership came into play to help the younger guys navigate through it.
On more than one occasion senior Alex Baumgarten sacrificed his body to come up with a loose ball or wrestle it away from an opponent. With Greenville down 53-50 he was able to come up with a loose ball which ultimately ended in the hands of Brenner for a triple that tied the game at 53 that eventually went into overtime.
“I thought Alex Baumgartner played as hard as any kid I’ve ever watched in the last 24 years,” praised Jones on his senior’s scrappy play.
Baumgarten wasn’t the only senior who came up big in the 4th quarter as Oriol Ribera Garcia connected on a triple and on a drive to the basket with each made basket tying the game.
“Garcia came off the bench after sitting for a little bit and redeemed himself and got us right back in the game in the 4th period,” Jones would state.
The 1st overtime resembled more of the same with both teams trading baskets and unable to separate. Finally, EB gave the Wave a 1-point lead on a lay-up and moments later Garcia again was big on a lay-up to put Greenville up 62-61 with 40 seconds in OT.
Defensively Greenville struggled to stop the dribble drive as Xenia regained the lead 63-62 until senior Million Bryant got to the rim as well to put the Wave up 64-63 but Xenia was able to tie it again to send the game to a 2nd overtime.
Greenville kept pace early with a tough stick-back from sophomore forward Chace Drew and a lay-up from EB to knot the score at 68. But Xenia made the big plays in the last minute of the 2nd overtime period to finally pull away to win the game 74-68.
“This was a tough one tonight to lose but you know we did a good job and we’re getting better in spurts,” coach Jones said after the game.
“We’re just trying to keep them positive and headed in the right direction and I think we’re doing that with a lot of positive talk.”
For the Green Wave fans there was a buzz about the game seeing the freshman meshing with the seniors competing at a higher level and doing well. And why not? Eric Brenner was good on 7 triples coming up just one shy of tying the school record. And watching EB Fall on smooth athletic drives good for 18 points combined with the ability to dish out 6 assists.
Seniors Million Bryant had 10 points and Oriol Garcia 9 as both came up big in the latter part of the game for Greenville.
“We play in a very physical league and we’re getting better, it was good to see our senior leadership meshing with our young guys. I feel like over the next five games if we can continue to get the same effort we’re giving now we can be playing our best basketball heading into the tournament. The downside being our record is we’ll have to beat the best team to win, so whoever we draw, we draw … but they will be getting our best effort,” Jones concluded.
Yes the fans would get their Money’s worth and I suspect they will be getting it not only the rest of this year but for the next 3 years to come.