Greenwood wasn’t going to let this one get away.
Hosting Region 4 opponent Franklin-Simpson – a team they dropped a 46-44 decision to back on Dec. 23 – on Tuesday night, the Gators executed down the stretch and came away with a hard-fought 54-51 win over the Wildcats at Greenwood High School.
“We’re 5-1 in our last six, and I just told those guys I’m most proud of that one,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy said. “(Franklin-Simpson’s) a great ball team. They’re playing good basketball. For us to pull that out without (starting point guard) Parker (Williams), that was a big one headed into Friday.”
Greenwood (12-7 overall) trailed 18-17 after the opening quarter and 28-27 at halftime but pulled ahead for a 39-38 lead entering the fourth and was in front for a majority of the fourth to come out on top with a third straight victory.
Noah Stansbury led the Gators with 13 points, while Cade Stinnett finished with 12 points, Marc Grant scored 9 and Dakota Ware added 8.
“I think we guarded much better,” Stinnett said of what Greenwood did this time against Franklin-Simpson. “We didn’t fall too much into playing their style as we tried to keep it ours. 5-1 in our last six games – we’re playing good basketball right now. We’ve just gotta keep it up.”
Kyjuan Stutzman carried Franklin-Simpson (9-8) with a game-high 18 points.
Franklin-Simpson started hot and jumped out to a 9-2 lead after Stutzman scored at the 5:31 mark of the first quarter. Greenwood found a spark and used a Stansbury 3-pointer to get within 13-11 at the 3:56 mark, and Ware scored with 45 seconds left to cut the Gators’ deficit to 18-17 after one.
“A lot of us are feeling under the weather,” Stinnett said. “(Starting point guard) Parker (Williams) was sick tonight and couldn’t play. I thought Will (Gaddis) and Dakota and Brakton (Stinnett) – people like that off the bench – they stepped up big time for us and gave us a good lift that we needed.”
Stansbury’s triple put Greenwood in front 20-18 early into the second, but Tedric Partinger responded with a quick score on the other end for the Wildcats to tie it.
Stansbury hit another 3 to put the Gators up 25-20, but Dawson Knight hit a pair of 3s and Andreyous Miller scored on a tough basket inside to give Franklin-Simpson a 28-27 lead with 1:49 left in the half – and it took that same advantage into the break.
DeMarco Chatman made a pair of free throws to even the scoreboard at 30-30 at the 5:06 mark of the third quarter, but Ware scored inside to put Greenwood up 35-32 just over a minute later.
“I was just proud of their grit,” McCoy said. “Proud of our grit tonight.”
Partinger’s bucket with 1:51 left in the period put the Wildcats back in front 38-37, but Cade Stinnett made a pair of free throws to give the Gators a 39-38 lead entering the fourth.
A pair of Stutzman free throws tied it at 40-40 with 5:29 remaining, but Marc Grant soon splashed a deep 3 from the left wing to put Greenwood up 45-40 with just over four minutes left.
Stutzman scored with 2:26 left to cut the Gators’ lead to 49-43, and the Wildcats eventually got within 53-51 with just seconds left, but Greenwood was able to hold them off.
“My guys – they play with anybody,” Franklin-Simpson coach Dee Spencer said. “They play hard, they compete. Can’t knock their effort – just gotta do a better job playing defense without fouling.”
Both teams return to action Friday as Greenwood hosts Warren Central and Franklin-Simpson welcomes in Logan County. Both games are scheduled to tipoff at 7:30 p.m.
FSHS – 18 10 10 13 — 51
GHS – 17 10 12 15 — 54
FS: Kyjuan Stutzman 18, Dawson Knight 9, Tedric Partinger 9, DeMarco Chatman 7, Andreyous Miller 4, Jalen Briscoe 2, Logan Lacouture 2.
GW: Noah Stansbury 13, Cade Stinnett 12, Marc Grant 9, Dakota Ware 8, Ben Carroll 5, Will Gaddis 4, Peyton Loggins 2, Brakton Stinnett 2.