Strip away the cliches, hyperbole and emotionally charged sound bites associated with Greenbrier-Evans boys basketball contests and there is this:
"We know it's going to be close," Evans forward Marcus Gavin said after the Knights' 55-54 home victory Saturday over Greenbrier.
The Knights knew it would be close, even after grabbing their largest lead of the game -- a nine-point edge with 2:41 left.
With four seconds left, Gavin was on the line with the game tied. His first free throw was all the separation there was between the county's biggest basketball rivals.
"It feels good to get that out of the way," Gavin said. "That's a game everybody likes to come see. So it's good to get that 'W.'"
The victory was proof the Knights could win in a big-game atmosphere after losing several key pieces from last season, coach Kevin Kenny said. The Knights' starting point guard and leading scorer both graduated, then 6-foot-10 center Jaleel Roberts transferred.
Among the Knights returners was Tony Davis, who could do it all for the Knights a season ago and is off to a similar start. Davis scored a game-high 28 points against the Wolfpack on Saturday while rebounding and blocking shots.
His free throw with 14 seconds left gave the Knights a 54-52 lead. Greenbrier's Justin Cofer was then fouled on the wing, and his two free throws with six seconds left evened the score for the first time since the second quarter.
Overtime seemed a good bet, but Gavin was fouled on the ensuing inbound and went to the line to win it for the Knights in regulation.
"It's unfortunate," first-year Greenbrier head coach Casey Heckathorn said. "I was so proud of the way the kids battled back. That happens. It's an Evans-Greenbrier night."
In the girls game, Greenbrier coach Dana Bull could be heard admonishing her team during an early timeout Saturday. The Wolfpack started slowly, giving the ball away more times than Bull cared for. Hence, the early fireworks.
"They needed a wake-up call," Bull said after the Wolfpack's 48-30 victory. "And they did a much better job coming out of that timeout."
The Wolfpack rolled after that. They led 17-6 after the first quarter and by 18 at the half.
Greenbrier's transition offense eventually overwhelmed the Knights. Wolfpack senior Kaila Hunt led all scorers with 21 points, many coming in transition.
Evans pulled within 13 midway through the third quarter on a McKenzie Bourne layup and foul, but the Wolfpack scored the next seven points and finished the quarter with an 11-3 run.
Bull said she was pleased with how her team responded after losing big to nationally ranked Redan the night before.
"You go and you play a huge caliber team away, you want to come back and bring the intensity to a game like this," she said. "It is Evans. You do want to win and play well."
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