In an earlier game this season, the Briarwood Academy Buccaneers defeated the Nathaniel Greene Academy Patriots by 14 points in Siloam. But in last Saturday's contest between the same two teams, the Patriots avenged the loss by pulling out a 54-41 victory.
The Bucs of Head Coach Bo Fleming, who have had a disappointing season thus far, were hoping to collect another win. But the Patriots made sure that didn't happen.
Senior basketball standout point guard Ryan Gerlach led the Buccaneers with 24 points, while junior star Trey Stadler contributed 12 points in a losing cause. Stadler also yanked down a number of rebounds. He and Gerlach also performed well, defensively.
Only two other players managed to score for Briarwood. One of them included Price Chalker, a senior, who hit a three-point basket in the first period. He later fouled out of the game with 1:50 left in the third period. At the time, Briarwood trailed 35-21. Seconds later, the Patriots hit another long shot, which increased their lead to 17 points.
The only other player scoring in the game for Briarwood was Matthew McElveen.
Two other Briarwood players also performed well, defensively against the Patriots. They included Carson Wiley and Ryan Nelson - both starters.
Going into the fourth period with only eight minutes to play, the Buccaneers mounted an impressive comeback attempt.
It began with back-to-back baskets by Stadler and Gerlach and cut the Patriots lead to 41-29. Just as quick as that happened, though, the Patriots matched such a performance and stretched their lead back to 16 points.
The Bucs, once again, got fired up - scoring three unanswered baskets on hoops from McElveen, Gerlach and Stadler. That cut the Patriots' lead to 45-35 with 4:40 left to play in the game.
With just under 3:50 to play, Gerlach followed a missed McElveen shot that made it a 46-39 and suddenly the impossible seemed possible for the Buccaneers. On the opposite end of the court, Stadler leaped high to snatch down a rebound and give his team a shot at drawing even closer. The ball, however, was stolen by a Patriots player who went on to score and keep the victor's lead at nine points.
With 1:55 to play, Gerlach sank a pair of free-throws to cut the lead to seven again, but the Patriots managed to do the same thing seconds later. The Patriots, who led the majority of the game, then worked at their own pace until the buzzer sounded ending the game.
Free-throws turned out to be a problem for the Buccaneers, as much as their inability to hit field goals during certain key times of the game. Briarwood made only 6-of-16 bonus shots. The Patriots weren't any better in that category - connecting on only 10-of-22 such baskets.