TERRE HAUTE -- Talent isn't the only factor in winning basketball games. More often than not when the talent levels of two teams are nearly equal, sheer guts can be the deciding factor. Tuesday night's sectional opener between the Terre Haute South Braves and Northview Knights was one of those type of games.
In the third meeting this season of the two teams, the Knights overcame several five-point deficits in the second half to overcome the Braves 61-55 to advance to the sectional semifinals on Friday night.
The Knights were able to outscore the Braves 20-12 in the fourth quarter and finish the game on a 15-4 run as they overcame a 51-46 deficit midway through the final quarter.
Guards Travis Hughes and Josh Timm were integral in the Knights victory with their offense and defense on Tuesday night.
Timm scored all 13 of his points in the second half, eight in the fourth quarter as the Knights made their run to get back into the game and eventually take the lead. He also hit five-of-six from the line in the final 1:04 to cement the win. On the defensive side however the talk was about Hughes' matchup with South's center.
"Travis is a phenomenal defender," said Northview coach Mitch Lancaster. "He's able to guard both centers and guards which is such a rare ability."
Against the Braves the 6'2, 160 pound guard spent a lot of time matched up against Jeremy Lock, the 6'6, 240 pound center that has really given the Knights fits in the past two meetings.
On Tuesday, Hughes helped hold him to just four points on two-of-five shooting from the field.
Shutting down the Braves inside game for the most part (R.Davis and Lock combined for 13 total points), the Knights forced South into a perimeter game that for a while looked like it might carry the Braves to victory.
South senior Evan Harruff knocked down three first half 3-pointers on his way to 11 first half points as the Braves ran out to as much as an eight-point lead in the second quarter before Northview got back to 25-24 on a closing 11-4 run.
Zach Keyes and Logan Whitman started the resurgence when Keyes followed a Harruff 3-pointer with a bucket and Whitman nailed a 3-pointer, one of four in the game for him. After South's sophomore point guard Armon Bassett hit a pair of free throws, Keyes hit two more buckets to get the Knights within a point at the break, 25-24.
In the second half the Knights looked to be letting things slip away a couple of times only to get clutch shots from any one of a number of players.
Hughes got the Knights within 33-32 in the third quarter before Harruff nailed another 3-pointer that could have sucked the wind from the Knights sails. However, Keyes responded with a trey of his own. South reserve Michael Shouse calmly knocked down a 3-pointer the next time down the court to again put the Braves up by four at 39-35. But back came Timm with a long 3-pointer to keep the score tight.
As the fourth quarter arrived with the Knights trailing 43-41, Bassett was the first to make some clutch plays.
Bassett, who had 25 in the last meeting between the teams, hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to put South up 48-43. But then it was Timm's turn.
After a Northview turnover, Timm quickly got position under his basket and took a charge that eliminated a sure South layin and what could have been a backbreaking seven point deficit.
On the other end, Whitman pumped up a 3-pointer that was off the mark but Timm was there to knock down a trey when the Knights got the rebound. The five-point swing got the Knights within 48-46 before South's Justin Shuler followed with a shot from long range in the clutch and another five point Braves' lead.
But then the Knights buckled down and started making the plays that mattered.
Keyes responded with a 3-pointer followed by two Hughes' charity tosses that knotted the score at 51-51. The Braves and Bassett responded by running the clock down to 2:08 before he threw the ball away in the corner.
The Knights capitalized when the Braves defenders weren't quick enough around a screen set for Whitman who drilled a wide open 3-pointer at the top of the key to give Northview their first lead since the first quarter.
At the other end, Bassett was fouled with 1:05 left and went to the line for a one-and-one situation. He missed the front end and though Robert Davis got the board he missed a point blank rebound before Timm picked up one of his team-leading eight rebounds and was fouled.
He knocked down both shots to give the Knights a 56-51 lead. Bassett followed with a driving hoop, but Hughes was clutch with a short jumper in the paint with 35 seconds left. The 58-53 was finally safe after Timm followed two Bassett freethrows with one of his own and Shuler missed a final 3-point shot for the Braves. Two more from the line gave the Knights the final margin and the bid to the semifinals.
"You can't look past anyone in this sectional," said Lancaster afterwards. "If you think that you can your kidding yourself. These kids showed their perseverance tonight. We showed that we may lose, but we'll die trying to win."
T. H. South (55)
Harruff 5-12 0-0 14, Davis 4-9 1-1 9, Lock 2-5 0-0 4, Bassett 4-10 6-8 15, Shuler 2-6 0-0 6, Christie 2-2 0-0 4, Talpas 0-1 0-0 0, T.Davis 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-47 7-9 55.
Hughes 6-8 3-4 15, Timm 3-10 5-6 13, Keyes 9-17 0-0 21, Wegner 0-1 0-3 0, Whitman 4-14 0-0 12, Brand 0-0 0-0 0, Akers 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-50 8-13 61.
3-point fieldgoals -- South 8-22 (Shuler 2-6, Bassett 1-4, Harruff 4-10, Shouse 1-1, Talpas 0-1), Northview 9-17 (Whitman 4-9, Keyes 3-4, Timm 2-4). Total Rebounds -- T.H.South 26 (R.Davis 12), Northview 24 (Timm 8, Hughes 6). Total Fouls -- T.H. South 16, Northview 11. Turnovers -- T.H. South 16, Northview 10. Assists -- T.H. South 13 (Bassett 5), Northview 13 (Timm 3, Whitman 3, Wegner 3).