Indians fall in district tourney opener

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, February 16, 2010

EMPORIA-Southampton High School came out with a smothering defense, holding Greensville County without a bucket for the first 4½ minutes of the Indians’ opener in the Southside District boys’ basketball tournament here Monday.

The final 27½ minutes belonged to the home team, however, as the Eagles prevailed 51-40 and avenged a loss to Southampton on Friday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Southampton, 12-6, now awaits word on a berth in the Group AA Division 3 Region I playoffs.

The first quarter of Monday’s game saw only two field goals scored and some very physical play. Greensville led 7-4 after the opening fram.

The Indians tied the game at 8-8 two minutes into the second quarter and, after a Greensville basket, went on a 6-0 run over the next three minutes to open a 14-8 lead. But the visitors would go scoreless the final 2:30 of the half, could not stop an 8-0 run of the Eagles and trailed 16-14 at intermission.

“We couldn’t make layups tonight,” said SHS Coach Will Melbye, whose team tied for third place in the Southside District during the regular season. “We just couldn’t finish around the basket. They didn’t do anything special to us; we just got ourselves out of rythym and couldn’t put two or three consecutive posessions together. We weren’t getting the buckets inside, and when we don’t finish those, we tend to struggle to find the mid-range game and the cutters.”

The second half saw another set of runs for each team as there were six lead changes, but the final one at the 5:30 minute mark of the fourth quarter was the last. Greensville went on to get the last 6 points of the game, all on free throws, to earn the victory.

“This was a battle,” Melbye said. “We told the guys before the game that now is when games really start to have a different feel. They are more physical and more emotionally draining. You have to be ready mentally to play these games, and I don’t know if we were ready for the tournament atmosphere. Last Friday night’s game was a nice intro to what it’s like to play in a real basketball environment, but all but two of these guys have never played in a varsity high school tournament game, and those two were freshmen at the time. We will get better and we’ll see how things shake out for the regional tournament and we will be ready to go. No matter where we play, we will be ready.”