GREENCASTLE — Eric Danforth had seen enough after just four minutes into Friday’s game against Greencastle.
After falling behind 5-0, North Montgomery’s first-year head coach sent the starting unit to the bench.
It got the team’s attention quick and they responded by claiming a hard-fought 54-53 victory to close out the regular season.
“I had done it at some other places, but never here,” Danforth said of his decision early in the game. “You never know how it’s going to work, but tonight it worked.”
Having turned the ball over on their first four possessions and falling behind early the second unit was called on and they responded by taking a 6-5 lead
The Chargers’ starters returned in the second quarter and erupted for 20 points and North Montgomery led by as many as eight (29-21) before Greencastle rattled off the final seven points of the half to cut the deficit to 29-28.
The Chargers (8-14) shot the lights out in the first half from 3-point range hitting 7-of-11 for 63.6 percent. Leading the way was Justin Clary who hit all three of his long-range shots. Clary didn’t let up in the third quarter either and he hit two more, and led the Chargers with 15 points after three quarters when the two teams were tied at 41.
A Jack Thompson basket and an old fashion three-point play by Clary gave North Montgomery a 46-41 lead less than a minute into the final quarter.
The Chargers held off every charge the Tigers Cubs made down the stretch. Made Kobel made both ends of a one-and-one pushing the lead back to three with 1:27 to play. Then Clary hit both ends of a one-and-one with 39.5 seconds to play to give the Chargers a 54-51 lead.
A rebound basket by Greencastle with 4.3 seconds to play cut the lead to a point and the Tiger Cubs committed a dead ball foul which sent Clary to the foul line. He missed the free throw, but a half-court shot by Colin York was off and the Chargers celebrated their eighth win of the season.
“What a big win for us,” Danforth said. “These kids are competitors. They don’t want to hear they played hard or they are improving. They want wins. They deserved this one. Hopefully it will show them their hard work pays off. We have lost a number of close games. Our record could easily be reversed.”
Clary led the Chargers with 22 points while Caleb Randolph added 12.
Danforth praised the entire team.
“Everyone did a great job,” he said. “Our second unit came in and gave us energy and defense in the first quarter. We had guys step up on defense and it was a great win for us on the same floor where we will play the sectional next week.”