Warren Central needed that one.
After dropping back-to-back games to John Hardin and Bowling Green, the Dragons regrouped and bounced back with a win over South Warren on Tuesday and carried that momentum over to Friday night — using an all-around complete effort to earn a 70-63 overtime victory at Greenwood.
“It’s been a grind,” Warren Central coach Will Unseld said. “You’ve gotta grind it out going into the postseason. It was a great win for us. We struggle here every year — and most teams struggle here every year — so to come in and win it the way we did was great for us. I think our schedule set us up for this becasue we’ve been in a lot of battles.”
The Dragons (13-6 overall, 3-1 District 14) trailed 29-23 at halftime and were down eight with four minutes remaining in regulation but completely turned things around and ended up outscoring the Gators 12-5 in the extra period to record the come-from-behind victory.
Dre Boyd led WCHS with 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Tegra Muleka scored 14 points and Kamden Lawrence had 9.
“We just had to guard and rebound and do the little stuff,” Boyd said. “We just played hard and just didn’t let it get down like we usually do in bad games whenever we aren’t playing right. We just kept doing what we did and got back in it.”
Ben Carroll finished with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds to carry Greenwood (12-8, 3-2), while Cade Stinnett scored 15 points and Parker Williams tallied 11.
Greenwood started hot and jumped out to a 12-6 lead at the 4:16 mark of the first quarter, but Warren Central used an 8-2 run — highlighted by a basket from Boyd — to even the scoreboard at 14-14 after eight minutes of action.
Tayton Smith hit a 3-pointer to put the Dragons up 21-17, but Carroll answered with one of his own to help the Gators cut their deficit to 21-20 at the 4:11 mark of the second.
Stinnett’s score gave Greenwood a 24-21 lead with 2:27 left in the half, and Williams soon hit a triple to make it a 12-0 Gators’ run. Antonio Barbee scored inside to finally cap Greenwood’s run, but Warren Central still trailed 29-23 at the break.
Muleka knocked down a 3 to tie it at 29-29 early into the third, and Boyd scored four straight points to put the Dragons up 33-31 at the 4:43 mark. Down by two, the Gators assembled a 7-0 run — powered by a Carroll and-one and a Will Gaddis 3 — to take a 38-33 lead.
A jumper by Carroll made it 40-35, and Stinnett scored inside soon after to put Greenwod up 42-37 — and it ultimately led 44-37 entering the fourth.
“I thought we had a better game plan, I thought our guys competed … but they made a surge and a push and we had a chance to put ’em away but miss 17 free throws,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy said. “That kind of sums it up — I feel like — tonight.”
Carroll’s deep ball gave the Gators a 49-41 lead with just over five minutes remaining, but Smith fired back with a 3 on the opposite end to bring Warren Central within 51-46 with 4:19 left.
Geovonni Floyd’s bucket cut the Dragons’ deficit to just 53-50 with 2:45 left, and Boyd made a 3 to make it 56-53 with 1:32 to go. Then, down 57-53 with under a minute remaining, Jaiden Lawrence drilled a 3 to trim Greenwood’s lead to just 57-56 — and it was soon tied 58-58.
“We knew we were gonna have to fight because they were gonna play the whole game,” Boyd said. “That’s what they do — they play the whole game until the buzzer. They’re gonna play hard and not give up, so we’ve gotta keep going hard and get the lead back and get the win.”
Greenwood had the ball on its own side of the court with just 3.8 seconds to go, but Carroll’s jumper at the buzzer just missed and the two teams went to overtime.
Back-to-back 3s by Lawrence and Muleka put Warren Central up 64-60, and the Dragons made clutch free throws down the stretch to come out on top.
“My kids never once come to the sideline like the game was over,” Unseld said. “It was like, ‘Okay. We’re ready to go.’ We just made a decision late — Kobe’s shot wasn’t falling, so we said, ‘Let’s put Jaiden in.’ He comes in … and boom hits a three in the corner — then makes another one to start overtime.
“We just figured out how to win that basketball game.”
WCHS — 14 9 14 21 12 — 70
GHS — 14 15 15 14 5 — 63
WC: Dre Boyd 25, Tegra Muleka 14, Kamden Lawrence 9, Geovonni Floyd 6, Tayton Smith 6, Jaiden Lawrence 6, Kobe Brents 2, Antonio Barbee 2.
GW: Ben Carroll 25, Cade Stinnett 15, Parker Williams 11, Marc Grant 5, Will Gaddis 5, Noah Stansbury 2.