Call it the shot heard 'round Columbia County.
Evans junior Jonathan Nicely nailed a 3-pointer as time expired in the Knights' 61-58 win at Greenbrier on Friday. Nicely stood closer to the half-court line than the 3-point line when he let the shot go, but the ball found the net cleanly and completed the most competitive and memorable basketball game so far in the 2006-07 season.
"There's never been a game like that at Greenbrier High School. Not since I've been here," Greenbrier boys basketball coach Casey Dees said. "That game right there is why you play high school sports."
Nicely's last-second shot will most likely be remembered as the play that made the difference in the game, but several other factors contributed to the Evans win:
- At the end of the first quarter, Greenbrier was leading 19-17. The fast-paced opening quarter saw six ties and eight lead changes.
- The second quarter was all Evans, as the Knights jumped ahead with an 11-0 run. At 3:08 left in the half, Nicely already had 14 points and Evans held its biggest lead of the game: a 28-19 advantage. The big lead was short-lived when Greenbrier's Nolan Belcher drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, and Evans took a five-point lead at halftime.
- The third quarter saw Evans begin in a zone defense instead of the usual man-to-man. Greenbrier took full advantage and opened the half with an 11-0 run to take a 44-36 lead with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Evans battled back, but with 16 seconds left in the quarter, Belcher's fourth 3-pointer of the game bounced off the rim three times before it fell in and gave Greenbrier a 50-44 lead.
- Evans outscored Greenbrier 17-8 in the fourth quarter with the help of Brandon Durr. Although Nicely hit the last 3-pointer of the game, Durr drilled four 3-pointers in the final quarter and finished with a game-high 23 points. His last one came with 1:10 left and tied the game at 58-58. With only 7.9 seconds left on the clock, Evans called a time out to set up the game-winner.
"Our point guard was supposed to drive in against their zone and dish it back out to me or Brandon, but it didn't happen like that," Nicely said.
Greenbrier's two guards closed down the lane, preventing Evans point guard Brandon McCladdie from driving. Instead, McCladdie dribbled at the top of the key, then passed to Nicely with just enough time to get a shot off.
The shot went in as time expired and a flood of Evans fans rushed the floor to celebrate on Greenbrier's court.
"It's a huge region win," Evans coach Kevin Kenny said. "I remember a triple overtime game against Greenbrier five or six years ago, but that's the only thing I can compare it to."
The two teams are now 1-1 against each other this season.
Greenbrier beat Evans 49-45 at Harlem High School on Nov. 20 in the first round of the Turkey Tip-Off Tournament. The final regular-season meeting between the two schools will take place Jan. 26 at Evans.
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