A defensive stand and offensive push in the fourth quarter gave the Searcy Lions a 51-47 come-from-behind win over the Greenbrier Panthers on Tuesday night in Greenbrier.
Searcy scored 12 unanswered points in the last 6:30 to get the win while holding the Panthers to one field goal and one free-throw attempt in the fourth quarter.
In the first quarter, Searcy looked to be in a good rhythm as the Lions were active on offense and were getting great looks.
Braden Watson for Searcy only had two points in the first quarter but was everywhere on the floor on defense. He had several deflections and forced turnovers that led to transition points for the Lions. However, coach Wayne Herren said more is expected from Watson that his performance for much of the night.
“He’s [Watson] got to be there for us every night,” Herren said. “He’s got to get everybody involved, and I think he would tell you tonight was not a very good game for him. He got, you know, some lapses defensively in the second half, got beat by a backdoor a couple times and and we sat him down tonight.
“We sat him on the bench and played a young kid, the sophomore, off the bench and Zyron [Williams] gave us good minutes and kind of let Braden sit over there and catch his breath, kind of see what was going on. We put him back in the last four minutes and he was solid for us. He hit free throws for us at the end of the game and made it a two-possession game.”
For Greenbrier, it started out with sophomore Jack Runsick scoring the first five points for the Panthers. After that, their next 14 points, including the first nine of the second quarter, were scored by senior Nate Barrentine. Of those 14 points, 12 were off three-point shots.
“We’ve got enough to play like we know how to,” Barrentine said. “We just did what we could without our bigs in. We just tried to give each other the best chance to win. We move the ball around and get open shots and penetrate the gaps, ultimately try to give us the best chance to win the game.”
The Lions countered with offense from players off the bench. Senior Jack Stafford had nine points in the first quarter in the form of back-to-back three-point shots in less than 30 seconds to help give the Lions a 21-10 lead at the end of the first.
After Barrentine’s nine points, Searcy was able to start getting back into a rhythm again. Watson had five points in the second quarter
The tide turned some in the favor of the Panthers with 1:34 left before the half.
Senior Daemon Criswell had just scored a layup for Greenbrier to make the score 30-23 Searcy. On the Lions’ inbounds pass, there was a foul called and with no time having come off the clock, the Panthers shot two free throws and split them making the score 30-24.
The Lions got a timely basket from Stafford with a minute left until halftime to try and stop any Greenbrier momentum. After two more free throws from Greenbrier at the end of the half, Searcy held to a six-point lead at 32-26.
Then, the third quarter was a nightmare for the Lions. Greenbrier came out on fire on both ends of the court and it seemed like two different teams.
The Panthers scored 10 unanswered points to start the third quarter. Panthers Pavilion and the Panthers’ bench, which had been quiet most of the night, was now loud.
“I think we have a really good culture as far as our kids supporting each other,” Greenbrier coach Mike Simmons said. “I think our kids do a good job of stepping up and always being supportive and excitable.”
Searcy called a timeout and Herren was not happy with the effort that his starting five was putting out.
He subbed in a new group and they went on a small run and took the lead back at 39-37 after falling behind 37-32.
Greenbrier finished the quarter like the Panthers started it. They scored the final eight points unanswered to go into the fourth quarter with a 45-39 lead.
Then the roles reversed. It was Searcy that went on a run and it was Greenbrier that had trouble finding offense.
The final run was enough to give Searcy the win in dramatic come-from-behind fashion.