SHELBYVILLE — Entering Tuesday’s game with Shelbyville, Greenfield-Central coach Josh Johnson knew his squad would be at a severe disadvantage.
In order to topple a vertically-gifted Golden Bear squad looking to keep their Hoosier Heritage Conference title hopes alive, the Cougars had to take care of the ball and hit shots — a lot of them.
G-C did that and more Tuesday, knocking down 13 3-pointers and overcoming a massive rebounding margin to hold off Shelbyville 86-80 in overtime at William L. Garrett Memorial Gymnasium.
The 4A Cougars (4-15, 1-5 HHC) needed their most points in over six years to claim their second victory over fellow 4A competition in the last three seasons — both have come against the Golden Bears. G-C also scored a 66-55 road win at Shelbyville on Jan. 21, 2012.
Tate Hall (30 points) and Dallas Pribble (23 points) each tallied career highs for the blue-and-gold, which was outrebounded 41-13 and but drilled 19-of-24 free throws in the fourth quarter and overtime to knock Shelbyville (7-10, 3-2 HHC) out of HHC championship contention.
“We knew rebounding would be a problem — and it was a huge problem,” said G-C coach Josh Johnson, whose squad surrendered 23 offensive boards. “I don’t know if there’s a team that rebounds better than they do. That was a big worry. We don’t matchup with them real well.”
matchup with them real well.”
The Cougars led 71-64 with under two minutes left in regulation, but a pair of 3-point plays — traditional and from beyond the arc — bookended around a bucket by Mitch Orem bought the Golden Bears to within 74-72 with just under 40 seconds remaining.
G-C turned the ball over on its next possession, and fittingly, Shelbyville’s Braden Cole scored on an offensive rebound to tie the game.
The Cougars coughed the ball up again and the Golden Bears called timeout to set up the potential game-winning play with 13.6 seconds on the game clock, but Reilly Reinbold’s 3-pointer was off the mark, and visitors were in their first overtime contest of the season.
In OT, Hall took over, scoring his team’s first seven points of the extra stanza, including what proved to be the winning free throws with a minute and 43 seconds left.
Hall, a sophomore guard averaging 14.9 ppg, was hot early (nine first-quarter points) and in the fourth quarter (10 points) after battling foul trouble in the middle portion of the game.
“I kind of got in the zone,” said Hall, who was 7-of-11 from the field and 12-of-15 from the charity stripe. “I got to the free-throw line too.”
Pribble, a junior guard, was the hot hand in the third quarter, pouring in a trio of 3-pointers at critical junctures to stave off Golden Bear spurts. Pribble’s second triple came near the end of the third frame out of a timeout on a well-timed dish from sophomore point guard Chandler Bean. The 3-pointer pushed G-C’s lead to 47-39, and elicited a subtle but strong fist pump from Johnson.
Pribble knocked down 6-of-7 attempts from beyond the arc to cruise past his previous career high of 13. The Cougars shot 13-of-19 from 3 (68 percent) and 25-of-49 (51 percent) overall.
“Pribble and Hall were stroking the ball today,” Johnson said. “We have faith in both of them and they both were rolling tonight. I’m really happy for them.”
G-C was 0-8 in games decided by 10 points or less coming into Tuesday, and it looked as if its late-game struggles would cost them another victory, especially when Orem hit two free throws to score the first points of overtime and hand the hosts their first lead of the game at 76-74.
But, the Cougars steadied and scored 10 of the game’s next 13 points, finally getting stops after being pounded on the glass by Orem & Co. all night. Orem finished with a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds. The 6-4 junior forward and his teammates — four Golden Bears standing 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and 6-5 played significant minutes — often made the smaller G-C players appear helpless to stop him.
“Orem is a tough player to guard,” Johnson said. “He’s very good, but one thing that made it worse was that Hall and Pribble were in foul trouble. We went between man and zone. The zone in the first half kept them driving; in the second half they drove a lot more. We struggled there.”
After shooting just 1-of-11 from 3-point land in the first half, Shelbyville changed course in the second half and pounded the visitors inside. No matter what defense Johnson went to — 2-3 zone, halfcourt trap, man-to-man, box-and-1 — the Cougars simply couldn’t corral any rebounds. Four Golden Bears had more than five boards.
“It was definitely frustrating,” Hall said of his team’s rebounding woes. “But we battled back.”
Coming off a 52-40 win over Knightstown last week, G-C now has back-to-back victories for the first time all season. The Cougars also snapped Shelbyville’s four-game winning streak.
“We’re coming together,” Johnson said. “We’ve picked up some experience in these close games. The Knightstown game we finished off. The Eastern (Hancock) game we finished off. They’re really improving and it’s starting to carry over.”
Notes: It was G-C’s first overtime game since a double OT defeat to Delta Feb. 1, 2013. … The Cougars scored 93 points in a 3-point loss to Richmond Nov. 20, 2007. Current assistant Jeff Bertsch was G-C’s head coach at the time. … Pendleton Heights (5-1 HHC) has clinched a share of the HHC title. With the Golden Bears’ loss, Yorktown (4-1 HHC) is the only other team with a shot at a share of the title. … Shelbyville’s leading scorer, Adam Eads (17 ppg), did not play because of a suspension.