Junior forward Kyler Vitko poured in a career 31 points on 9-10 from the field and 13-14 at the free throw line, and Zach Babbitt’s layup with two seconds left, his only points of the night, lifted North Greenville (10-16) to an exciting 77-75 victory over Reinhardt (GA) at Hayes Gym in Tigerville.
The Crusaders played t heir final game of the regular season, but will next host the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCCAA) South Regional Tournament March 9-11.
Paul Harrison backed Vitko’s big night with another double double at 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jonathan Bozymowski played a big role in the victory with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists.
NGU trailed 44-31 at the half and Reinhardt maintained control of the game, leading 68-55 with 7:36 remaining. However, Coach Chad Lister’s Crusaders powered to a 13-1 run the next 4:36 to pull within one at 69-68 with 3:26 left. Freshman guard T.J. Resper hit two clutch three-pointers and Bozymowski piled in five points to lead the comeback.
Freshman guard Zack Shields (Mount Eden, KY), who averages only 2.7 points per game, hit the biggest shot of his young NGU career with a three pointer with 2:21 left to put the Crusaders into the lead. That completed a 16-4 run in five minutes, 15 seconds.
Reinhardt, which was led by Aaron Darling and Kordel Alexander with 16 points, saw Alexander drain a three with one minute left to put the Eagles up 74-73. Vitko made two free throws with 36 ticks left to put NGU up 75-74, but Mario Mason made one of two FT’s for Reinhardt with 12 seconds left. Vitko rebounded his miss and tossed to Babbitt who drove for the game-winning shot.