Brock rallies late to edge Peaster

Jan. 5—BROCK — The Brock Eagles and Peaster Greyhounds followed up the girls basketball game with a district battle of their own on the court. Last year, Peaster won the district championship and beat Brock both times the teams faced off. This time, in the last season as district opponents, Brock rewrote the script with a thrilling 41-39 come-from-behind victory over its Greyhound rivals.

"I felt like Peaster came in here with a good game plan, they executed it well and played with intensity," Eagles head coach Zach Boxell said. "We knew they were going to have to play tough to get the job done and nearly did it, but our guys turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter. We didn't really hit that next step until the fourth quarter, which allowed us to barely pull out that win."

After trading early buckets, Peaster got in front 10-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Brock continued to stay within striking distance. Eagles junior guard Casen Meeks tied the game at 12-all after nailing a long 3-pointer with 5:54 left in the second quarter, but Peaster sophomore Cooper Anderson responded with a triple of his own with 4:22 to go and sophomore guard Rhett Kelley followed that up with a crafty layup high off the glass to extend the lead to 17-12 with 3:21 remaining in the first half. The teams traded layups in the final minute to put the score at 19-15 in favor of Peaster at intermission.

Brock trailed 21-16 in the early stages of the third quarter, but sophomore Colt Matlock got the hoop with the harm plus the free throw at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter. After that, Peaster was called for a technical foul that led to two free throw makes from junior guard Austin Lavender, which tied the score at 21-21.

Then, Peaster answered Brock's 5-0 spurt with a 9-0 scoring run, highlighted by a 3-pointer and a steal-and-score opportunity from Greyhounds senior guard Jerrin Canafax. The scoring run gave Peaster a 30-21 lead and forced Brock to call a timeout.

"As a team, we came together at halfcourt and said, 'Hey, let's make a run,'" Matlock said. "It was a big win just with it being a rivalry, and they (Peaster) are coming off a district championship after beating us two times in a row last year. We knew we had to come back and beat them, and we hope we can do it again when we play them at their place."

After the timeout, Matlock made a driving layup with 46 seconds and sophomore guard Jacoby Boxell swished a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that cut the deficit to 30-26 entering the fourth quarter.

The Eagles pulled to within 32-29 with 6:53 left in regulation after junior guard Denman Kirby splashed a 3-pointer and Boxell made a long ball of his own with contact from a Peaster defender with 4:12 left. Although he missed the free throw, Peaster led for the first time since the game's opening buckets at 33-32.

Despite that, Canafax fearlessly hoisted and connected on another triple that gave Peaster the lead back at 35-33 with 3:29 left. On Brock's next possession, Matlock found junior forward Braden Pitchford underneath for a layup that knotted the contest at 35 points apiece. After Brock collected a steal, Pitchford scored again in the painted area with 1:53 to go to give the Eagles a 37-35 advantage as the district battle continued to seesaw.

"There were some turnovers down the stretch, because we obviously want to cut those out — they're wasted possessions," Greyhounds head coach Stan Short said. "When you get into a game like this in a rivalry that comes down to one possession, you need to keep those three or four possessions you lost on turnovers. If you keep those, you will probably win the game."

Peaster missed a pair of free throws on its next possession and had to play the free throw game down the stretch. Matlock was the player of choice to send to the line and he delivered by making three of his four foul shots down the stretch. In spite of that, Canafax kept Peaster in it as his late driving layup and 3-pointer pulled Peaster to within a point each scoring occasion. Matlock's last free throw pushed the lead to 41-39, and Peaster went for the win behind the three-point line but could not connect as Brock completed its comeback.

"We've got a really young and inexperienced team, but they didn't look young and inexperienced tonight," Short said. "They're growing up one week at a time, and we are making great strides. I'm proud of the boys and wish we could've finished that one off tonight, but it's hard to do — it's something you have to learn to do."

Matlock led the Eagles with a team-high 10 points while Meeks and Pitchford each scored seven. Canafax poured in a game-high 19 points while Anderson and Kelley netted seven points apiece.

The Eagles (16-8, 3-0) will be back on the hardwood at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Eastland while the Greyhounds (12-8, 2-1) look to get back in the win column at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Millsap.