Mustangs rally in second half to overtake T-Birds in finale
LITTLE CINCINNATI – It was a tale of two halves for the Eastern Greene Thunderbirds Thursday night.
The Thunderbirds (12-11) gave the visiting Edgewood Mustangs (19-5) all they could handle for 16 minutes. Edgewood led by just a single point, 28-27 at halftime and still led by only one with a little over two minutes left in the third quarter.
But the Mustangs closed out the third stanza with eight unanswered points and outscored the hosts 18-6 in the final eight minutes to win going away, 62-41 on Senior Night at Eastern Greene.
“The first half we were doing just enough to get by,” Edgewood coach J.B. Neill said. “The second half we played with purpose and energy.”
And for the Thunderbirds the energy and aggressiveness they displayed earlier dissipated. Once Eastern Greene fell behind quickly at the start of the second half the T-Birds settled for 3-pointers instead of attacking the basket as they had earlier.
“We were down one at halftime,” Eastern coach Jon Neill noted. “If we finished the first half better we could be up five or six.
“We got down five, then seven points at the start of the second half and playing catch-up the rest of the way. And we tried to catch up by chucking three’s and that’s not the best way to go about it.”
Jaysce Skinner gave the T-Birds a spark off the bench in the first half. The 6-4 junior forward dealt a pair of treys and a trio of deuces for 12 first-half points.
Skinner took a feed from Ethan Helton and buried a trifecta. He scored in transition, then scored inside off a nice pass from Helton to close out the first quarter with the teams tied at 14.
Eastern led 27-23 late in the second quarter. Helton came up with a steal and layup, then tossed to Skinner for his second from beyond the arc. But the T-Birds didn’t get the strong finish their coach alluded to.
Edgewood’s Chayton Howard scored in transition, was fouled and converted the and-one. Caleb Norris nabbed a theft and got it ahead to Joe Kido for a fast break and a 28-27 lead headed into the locker room.
Edgewood led by four with three minutes to play in the third. Helton bagged a triple to cut the lead to one.
Then in the final 2:09 the Mustangs closed on an 8-0 run to lead 44-35 headed to the final stanza. Howard and Trevor Taylor each buried triples and Taylor swished a pair at the stripe.
“I challenged the guys at halftime,” the Edgewood coach Neill said. “Even though we’ve been winning games we haven’t had the energy and intensity on both ends of the floor we had in the third and fourth quarter tonight. I thought they responded.”
And they continued to respond. A pair of Taylor freebies with 5:32 to play expanded the margin to 11, 50-39. Howard knocked down his second of three triples and Taylor tipped in his own miss to push the lead to 16.
And that was basically it as the Mustangs scored the game’s last five points.
“We shot 14 three’s and five two’s in the second half,” the Thunderbird coach Neill pointed out. “Those aren’t ideal numbers looking at our game plan.
“The guys knew that. But sometimes against their zone we didn’t attack like we need to. And we were careless at times.”
He added, “I’m frustrated with the way this ended tonight. We gave up too many easy ones late.”
Still, the Eastern coach gave credit where due.
“That’s probably why they’ve got 19 wins - they’re really good. And their pieces fit together really well. Kido is a phenomenal point guard. And Howard has played well - especially against us - for three years. And Taylor’s a great piece when you add him to the mix.”
Skinner finished with 14. Helton added 13 and Caleb Hamilton chipped in 12.
Eastern Greene meets North Knox when sectional play begins Tuesday.
Edgewood 14 14 16 18 – 62
Eastern Greene 14 13 8 6 – 41
EDGEWOOD (19-5) – Joe Kido 2-6 2-2 6, Cam Banister 5-9 0-1 12, Trevor Taylor 6-16 4-5 17, Chayton Howard 7-13 1-1 18, Caleb Norris 1-2 0-2 2, Curtis Cowden 0-0 0-0 0, Parker Harrington 0-2 0-0 0, Jace Collier 2-3 3-3 7, Tate Balcam 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-51 10-14 62.
3-point shooting: 6-16 (Howard 3-7, Banister 2-5, 1-4). Rebounds 31 (Norris 8). Assists 9 (Kido 3, Banister 3). Steals 4 (Kido 2). Turnovers 4. Personal fouls 11. Fouled out: None.
EASTERN GREENE (12-11) – J.W. Howard 0-5 2-2 2, Joel Weimer 0-2 0-0 0, Ethan Helton 4-10 2-2 13, Isiaha Padgett 0-2 0-0 0, Caleb Hamilton 3-10 6-10 12, Jaysce Skinner 5-8 2-2 14, Drew Helton 0-1 0-0 0, Sam Rees 0-1 0-0 0, Bradley Padgett 0-0 0-0 0, Layton Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Richards 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-39 12-16 41.
3-point shooting: 5-22 (E. Helton 3-8, Skinner 2-3, Howard 0-5, I. Padgett 0-2, Weimer 0-1, Hamilton 0-1, D. Helton 0-1, Rees 0-1). Rebounds 28 (Hamilton 9). Assists 7 (Weimer 3). Steals 2 (Weimer, Helton). Turnovers 13. Personal fouls 12. Fouled out: None.