SMITHTON — A back-and-forth second half came down to the final second and Will Tripp was in the right place to get an offensive rebound and beat the buzzer with a putback as Smithton beat Cole Camp 63-61 on Tuesday.
Cole Camp’s Alex Pritzel appeared to block the initial shot from the top of the key, but the rebound went to Tripp who scored on the putback.
“We were trying to get an open shot,” said Smithton’s Drew Apsher. “It was kind of a broken play, but Will stayed with the play and got a putback.”
Tigers coach Rich Pond called one play in the huddle during a timeout with six seconds left and the score tied 61-61, but Cole Camp’s defense caused a change in plans.
“We switch off that to try to get Drew popped to the corner,” Pond said. “It worked out, not exactly like we drew it up, but kind of like we drew it up.”
Neither team could make much of a run from the two-minute mark of the third quarter on as the game saw seven ties and seven lead changes in the final 10 minutes.
After a Cole Camp run put the Bluebirds in front early in the third, Smithton answered and Brandon Amos sank a pair of free throws with 2:05 left in the quarter to put Smithton back in front. That lead lasted all of 22 seconds before Kendrick Logan grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, hit the put back and drew the and-one.
A pair of Anthony Richardson 3-pointers helped Smithton reclaim the lead, 47-46 heading into the fourth, but Pritzel soon tied it with a putback.
Richardson hit another 3-pointer late in the quarter to make it 59-57 before Trace Brandes tied the game with 47 seconds left. In the wild closing seconds, Tripp hit a drive to make it 61-59 with 13 seconds left before Cole Camp raced the other way and got a tying basket from Logan.
“I have to give Smithton a lot of credit,” said Cole Camp coach Dan Schnell. “No. 1, they hustled from the opening tip. They showed quickness and did a good job in all facets of the game. Rebounding, I thought they rebounded well. They penetrated.”
Smithton led 29-23 at halftime but found itself trailing early in the third after Cole Camp opened the second half with a 12-0 run paced by offensive rebounding and Pritzel. Of the Bluebirds’ 23 third quarter points, 17 were second-chance points. The Bluebirds had six offensive rebounds in the first six possessions of the third quarter.
“They’re big and they know how to attack the glass,” Pond said. “Coach Schnell teaches that, I’m sure, and with the size they have, that’s what we’d do too.”
Pritzel finished with 31 points in the game.
“He played his heart out,” Schnell said. “He’s a scorer and did a really good job of wanting the ball in his hands at the right time.”
Apsher scored his 1,000th career point with a basket in the third quarter.
“There’s a lot of people who helped me with this; my parents, my coaches,” he said. “I’m just really thankful.”
He had 12 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers and a layup as part of a 17-2 run late in the first quarter and early in the second as Smithton took what had been a 9-8 lead and built a 26-10 lead.
“I’ve never coached without an Apsher since I’ve been here,” Pond said. “It’s great. They’re a good family. They know how to play basketball and they play the right way.”
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles