Boys basketball: Highland finally finishes strong for first win
By Brian Hedger Post-Tribune correspondent December 14, 2012 11:20PM
Updated: January 16, 2013 6:11AM
GRIFFITH — It was the kind of finish Highland coach Jordan Heckard has been waiting to see.
Senior guard Tommy Brankin drilled an open 3-pointer from the corner with just 39.2 seconds left to play in a tied Northwest Crossroads Conference road rivalry on Friday night and it led to a thrilling 42-39 win — Highland’s first victory of the season.
“Our guys rose to the challenge,” Heckard said. “It’s been the story of the season. We go through some really nice stretches and then it’s a roller-coaster and we take a drop. This was the first time all year we kept our composure in the second half.”
Brankin did miss a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left, but a last-gasp heave by Griffith at the buzzer was short. The Trojans (1-5, 1-1) finally had the big win they needed.
“It felt good, so I knew it was going in,” Brankin said of his clutch shot, which was his third 3-pointer of the game. “I just spotted up in the corner and knocked it down. It helps our confidence to get a win.”
Brankin finished with nine points, while Seth Hardy added nine points of his own to lead the Trojans. Ben Parish led all scorers with 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds for Griffith (2-2, 0-1). The Panthers are without starting forward Erick Johnson, who injured his knee against Morton, and starting point guard Flint Powell — who went down with a stress fracture in his foot prior to the season.
Griffith coach Gary Hayes used freshmen Anthony Murphy and Tremmell Murphy to bring the ball up, but the Panthers struggled offensively and clogged up down the stretch.
“I think with about four minutes to go we just started worrying more about losing than winning,” Hayes said. “We just got a little tentative.”
That’s when Highland erased a 36-31 deficit on three-point plays by Ben Wood and Hardy to set up the final sequence. Highland’s Brendan Jameyfield (seven points) then put back a miss with 2:35 left to give the Trojans a 39-38 lead, but Anthony Murphy’s free throw 10 seconds later knotted it up 39-39.
Brankin’s big shot came next.
“The big (3-pointer) we gave up was when we let Brankin shoot the one when the game was tied 39-39,” Hayes said. “We’d just come out of the timeout and said, ‘Make sure we cover No.10 in that corner,’ and we didn’t get him.”