After hitting his first five 3-point attempts Tuesday, Triad sophomore Brendan Grigg had a chance to tie the Gibault Hawks with his sixth one in the closing seconds.
Grigg missed a long three and sophomore teammate Noah Moss missed another just ahead of the buzzer as Gibault held on for a 43-40 victory over the Knights, but there was nothing easy about this one.
“Good teams don’t let them shoot it twice,” Gibault coach Dennis Rueter said. “Good teams get it off the glass and we didn’t get it. We were fortunate he didn’t get the second one down.”
The Hawks (16-7) won their sixth straight and seventh in the last eight games, thanks in large part to a 10-0 run midway through the second half. They trailed a young Triad team 34-27 late in the third quarter, but a huge 3-pointer by Garrett Rueter at the end of the quarter ignited the comeback.
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That cut Triad’s lead to 34-32 heading into the fourth quarter and Gibault got another 3-pointer by Jacob Rueter that put the Hawks on top 37-34. They never trailed again.
“They just made a couple mistakes and we got a little bit more pressure on them,” Coach Rueter said. “We got a couple steals and that built a little more momentum up, fortunately we were at home tonight. They’re a young team and they probably got a little flustered when things didn’t go their way.
“We were pretty fortunate there, that’s for sure.”
Jacob Rueter topped Gibault with 12 points while Trevor Davis and Brian Deterding added 10 points each.
Grigg and Moss each finished with 15 points, giving the Knights (4-17) a chance to pull off the upset. Trailing by five, the Knights cut it to two and then got the ball back again down by two with 20.8 seconds remaining.
Grigg launched his three from the top of the key and after a mad scramble, Moss emerged and got off a rushed 3-point try that also was off the mark.
“It was a little bit out of his range, but it was probably the only way (Grigg) was going to be able to get one off,” said Triad coach Sam Drake, whose team starts four sophomores and a junior. “Then we did a great job of scrambling and getting Noah a shot on the wing, which was a little bit rushed. But in those circumstances, it’s probably about the best you’re going to get.”
Moss scored nine straight points for Triad during the third quarter as the Knights built a 34-27 lead. But Gibault pushed back hard with more defensive pressure and it helped lead to the 10-0 run.
“We got in a situation where we made some careless turnovers in that run,” Drake said. “At times we’ve got to know where we’re in a position to stop the bleeding and we just couldn’t stop the bleeding there. That’s part of the maturation process.”
The Hawks have won several games in the closing seconds or in overtime, which perhaps aided their confidence down the stretch.
“Obviously Moss is very capable,” Coach Rueter said. “He’s a pretty good player and he had a pretty good night. Grigg had an exceptional night, but if you’re a good team and you’re at home — even if a guy has a night — you’ve got to figure out a way to win against a team that’s won four games.
“We just barely found a way, didn’t we?”
The Hawks used their size advantage with good success early, hitting seven of nine shots in the opening quarter to grab a 16-11 lead.
While Gibault’s defense kept a close eye early on Triad scoring leader Moss (17.6 points per game), who had four points in the first half, Grigg kept finding openings from the 3-point line. Grigg nailed four straight 3-pointers in the first half and helped the Knights take the lead late in the second quarter along with a shot and two free throws by Jake Odell.
Triad led 25-22 at halftime.
“The youth is one thing but our depth kind of hurt us a little bit tonight,” Drake said. “We had some foul trouble that we had to deal with and when our big guys comes out, we get not only younger but we get smaller. That’s a challenge for us.”