CALCUTTA - Owen Crawford's driving hoop and charity toss a few seconds later provided the wining margin as the East Liverpool Potters edged the Beaver Local Beavers 52-49 in a nailbiting boys basketball game on Friday night.
Crawford's basket came with just 52 seconds remaining off a deft pass from Kade Reynolds in transition. He then hit the front end of a one-and-one with 20 seconds left to give the Potters their three-point lead and subsequent victory.
The Potters (4-2) had balanced scoring led by Hayden Cunningham with 12, Austin Emmerling 10, D.J. Austin eight, Reynolds eight, Aaron Long six and Crawford six. Emmerling grabbed 10 rebounds and Crawford eight. Isaac Davidson had four assists and Zack English had four steals for the Potters.
"I was very much impressed with Beaver Local and their intensity," said East Liverpool head coach Nate Conley. "Coach (Jeremy) Christen has them playing at a high level. We snuck out of here with a win. That's what you do sometimes on the road."
Left-handed bomber Chase Hilliard topped the Beavers (4-3) with 25 points for game honors, scoring a wide variety of shots. He also grabbed six missed shots and dished out six assists. Jared Lyder tallied 11 and Hayden Grafton seven. Chandler Cornell led all rebounders with 15.
"I love these types of games with your next-door rival," said Beaver Local head coach Jeremy Christen. "It brought out the best in all our kids. I thought both sides played extremely hard. They didn't leave anything on the floor."
Though it was an emotionally charged game with a lot of contact on both ends, both teams kept their tempers in check and played extremely hard.
Baskets by Lyder and Hilliard in the final minute of the first quarter enabled the Beavers to take a 13-10 after the first eight minutes.
In the second quarter, Beaver Local increased its lead to as much as seven at 19-12 and 24-17 on the strength of three-pointers by Hilliard, Grafton and Cornell. Following a timeout, the Potters went to their inside game fueled by Emmerling, who had eight points during the quarter. The Potter postman had the final four points of the half, enabling the teams to go to the lockerrooms knotted up at 28-28.
"We wanted to get the ball inside to Long and Emmerling," said Conley. "We were able to execute when we needed to at that point. Zack English came up with a couple of big steals during that run."
The third quarter was back-and-forth with five lead changes, as both teams failed to cash in on opportunities
"I thought Grafton did very good job of running the point for them," said Conley. "We couldn't rattle him."
Hilliard cashed in nine points during the third quarter as the Beavers led 42-40 with just one quarter remaining.
"We gave Hayden Grafton the task of running the point this year," Christen said. "That enabled us to put Chase Hilliard on the wing, where he can create as he showed tonight. It doesn't show up in the boxscore, but Hayden is managing the game very well for us on the floor."
Cunningham's five points at the start of the fourth quarter gave East Liverpool a 45-42 lead, but a Hilliard trey evened the count at 45-all. Austin's 15-footer was matched a spin move shot by Lyder. Grafton gave the Beavers their final lead of the night at 49-47 with 1:38 to go. Long tied it up with two foul shots eight seconds later, setting the stage for Crawford.
Beaver Local postman Josh Underwood left the game with a gash in his forehead at the 7:18 mark of the fourth quarter. He was immediately taken to the emergency room at East Liverpool City Hospital for treatment. There was no report on his condition.
The Potters won the jayvee game by a 68-38 count. Zack Adkins and Joey Bickerton led the young Potters with 15 points each. Dallas Brewer tallied 10. Beaver Local was paced by Kevin Mackey with 14.
The Potters are back in action tonight, traveling to Oak Glen in a makeup of game that was postponed from Dec. 14 due to weather.
E. LIVERPOOL: 10-18-12-10-52
BEAVER.: 13-15-14- 7-49
EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Kade Reynolds 3-0-8, D.J. Austin 3-0-8, Zack English 0-0-0, Austin Emmerling 4-2-10, Hayden Cunningham 4-2-12, Aaron Long 2-2-6, John Rickerd 0-0-0, Owen Crawford 2-2-6, Isaac Davidson 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 8-16: 52.
BEAVER LOCAL SCORING: Chase Hilliard 9-4-25, Jared Lyder 5-1-11, Hayden Grafton 3-0-7, Ethan Campbell 0-0-0, Chandler Cornell 1-0-3, Josh Underwood 1-1-3, Chase Wilcox 0-0-0, Kevin Mackey 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 6-18: 49.
Three-point goals: East Liverpool 6 (Austin 2, Cunningham 2, Reynolds 2), Beaver Local 5 (Hilliard 3, Grafton, Cornell).