Paul Harrison leaped for a layup with .08 seconds left off a half court inbounds pass from Zach Babbitt to lift North Greenville to a thrilling 80-79 victory over Southern Wesleyan at Hayes Gymnasium in Tigerville.
Junior forward Kyler Vitko (Alpharetta, GA) led the Crusaders with 25 points, including 18 in the first half. Harrison (Alpharetta, GA) contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds and sophomore forward Zach Babbitt (Greenville, SC) popped in 20 points. Nick Lagroone led Southern Wesleyan (6-15) with 23 points, Earle scored 13 and Wimphrie added 11.
North Greenville (7-12) led 71-66 with 4:51 left after a three-point play by Vitko. However, the Warriors battled back and took their first lead at 72-71 with 2:31 left after a Lorenxo (sic) Earle three-point shot. After that, there were eight lead changes and one tie in the final minutes of the game. With Southern Wesleyan leading 76-75 after another big jump shot by Earle with 1:02 left, Babbitt converted a layup and was fouled. He made the ensuing free throw to put the Crusaders up 78-76. SWC’s Byron Wimphrie then hit a deep three-pointer with two seconds left to seemingly give the Warriors the win.
However, Coach Chad Lister’s team threw the ball to mid court and called timeout. On the inbounds play from mid-court, Babbitt rifled the ball to Harrison near the basket and he muscled in the winner at the buzzer.
“We drew up the play during the timeout and it was a sideline out of bounds play,” Lister noted. “The ball was actually tipped and that helped us because Paul (Harrison) was able to get a handle on the hard pass and hit the layup. We didn’t do a good job defensively in the second half and we’ve lost a few games like that this year. But, our guys didn’t hang their heads after Wimphrie hit that last second three for them. We came out and won the game. I sincerely hope this gives us a big lift for the rest of the season,” Lister added.
Next up for NGU is a road contest at Livingstone (Salisbury, NC) on Thursday. The Crusaders’ next home game is Saturday, Feb. 7 against Morris College at 4:00 p.m.