RUTLEDGE – Seniors are supposed to be the leaders of the team and for the Grainger Grizzlies, two seniors stepped up when things looked the bleakest.
South Greene built a double-digit lead in the third period of Saturday’s district semi-final game but that was when Tristan Warfield and Brody Grubb went to work. The dynamic duo of fourth-year players combined to score 23 points in the second half to spark Grainger’s 59-52 win over the Rebels Saturday night at The Den.
“Tristan was phenomenal in the second half when he made four three’s and then had an and-1,” an elated Grainger head coach Adam Wolfenbarger said after the exciting comeback. “Brody has made some big ones over his career here and we have a lot of confidence in him to do that. We played seven guys tonight and I felt all seven of them gave great effort at all times.”
Warfield scored 14 points and Grubb added 12. Ty Overbay came off the bench to net 13 points.
The Rebels (13-9) started the game on fire as they hit four three’s in the first period which included Isaac Hoese’s four-point play when he was fouled on a downtown shot. Grainger rebounded to score the final seven points of the first period with Emmanuel Atkins punctuating things with a steal and layup at the buzzer to make it 15-11, South Greene. Landon Patterson started the second with a basket but the Grizzlies struggled offensively the rest of the period as Atkins’ six points were all Grainger scored. The Rebels clung to a 23-19 lead at the break.
Jay Higgins opened the second half for South Greene with consecutive triples. Later, the Rebels built a 33-22 lead but the Grizzlies’ defense shut them down the rest of the way as they exploded for a 13-1 run with Grubb’s shot at the buzzer slicing the Rebels’ margin to a single point, 36-35, on the final play of the third. Warfield kept draining three’s to begin the fourth with his first giving Grainger their first lead of the contest. The home team found their offensive punch and when Ty Overbay drained a shot from downtown with 2:33 remaining, the Grizzlies were up 55-47. It was a lead they would not give back as Grainger advanced to Tuesday’s title game by winning 59-52.
Grainger (18-8) will travel to take on top-seed Greeneville on Tuesday night and secures a home regional game next Saturday night. “Greeneville is a really good team but I think Grainger is pretty good too. I don’t think there is a better team in our league to go up there and give them what they have. I think my team is going to be ready and it’s an opportunity we are going to take and run with. My guys believe and I believe in them, we just have to play well and make shots and have some things go our way.”