Basketball coach Kim Chambers had only good things to say about his Harlem squad’s performance in a 64-59 overtime win against Greenbrier.
But the thoughts of opposing head coach Casey Heckathorn might have said even more about the Bulldogs.
Tuesday night’s contest was the opener of the 2011-12 Columbia County high school season.
In essence, Harlem looked nothing like a squad that had five total wins the past two seasons.
“I told our kids coming in, just from what I saw Saturday in their scrimmage, that this was a very hungry, different Harlem group,” Heckathorn said. “They’re young, athletic, and, man, did they make plays.”
Early on, it was newcomer Reggie Reid who showed off his playmaking abilities. The freshman point guard shined in all facets of the game while scoring 20 points.
But it was Dylan Farmer who was clutch down the stretch.
When the junior saw Greenbrier take a lead late in overtime in a game Harlem had led throughout, he knew someone had to step up.
So he tied it up with a three-point play on a nifty up-and-under move. Then, he stole a pass and scored in transition.
Finally, he iced the win with three late free throws.
“You just gotta keep playing,” said Farmer, who had eight of his game-high 21 points in the final minute of overtime. “That’s all I can say.”
Harlem took down a Greenbrier team that came in on the heels of a 19-11 campaign and a berth in the state playoffs.
The Wolfpack lost the talented trio of Chad Waddell, Justin Cofer and Dejon Britton to graduation.
For Chambers, the victory at home produced a markedly different feel than the past few season-openers.
“What you have to understand is that we haven’t won a whole lot of games in how many years?” he asked. “Then to start the season off 1-0; I don’t think we’ve started that (way) in a long, long time.
“This is just great for our guys to be able to set the tone for the year.”
Harlem got out to an early lead, then extended it to 37-29 at the half.
Greenbrier methodically cut into the lead in the second half, finally tying the contest on a Delano Hulse free throw with 1:27 left in the fourth quarter.
It was the final point of regulation, as Thomas Brown’s lay-in attempt for the Wolfpack at the buzzer hung on the rim, but fell off.
Greenbrier took its first lead since scoring the first basket of the game with a little more than a minute to go in overtime. Brown made a free throw, then alertly got the rebound on his subsequent missed free throw and scored on a lay-up.
Down three, Harlem stormed back with Farmer’s eight-point surge.
Harlem’s Alonzo Hill (17 points) and Greenbrier’s Brown (14 points) fouled out in a game that featured loads of fouls and 63 free throws. Zach Woo had a team-high 15 points for the Wolfpack.
Greenbrier was hurt by its free-throw shooting, going 14 for 34.
In the girls game, Greenbrier used a dominant first quarter and a strong closing kick to earn a 45-24 win over Harlem.
Wolfpack first-year coach Stefanie Basinger said her team, which has no seniors, struggled in the preseason with boxing out.
She put a focus on it before the opener, and it showed; Greenbrier controlled the glass and scored on numerous put-backs.
Basinger noted that her team’s strength, however, is its speed.
“We’re small, we’re young, and we’ve got a lot of guards on the floor at one time,” she said.
“So I just think being able to run hard throughout the whole game and not have those dull quarters is going to make a big difference.”
KaRa Thompson had a game-high 12 points for Greenbrier.
Christina Rentas had 10 points for Harlem, which is tasked with replacing last season’s top scorer Amanda Rogers.