NEW MIDDLETOWN - South Range senior forward Dan Good stepped to the free throw line with 5.4 seconds left in a tied game against Inter-Tri County League Tier 1 leaders Springfield on Friday.
With his elementary school fan club of 11 kids in T-shirts that spelled out "Got Good? #33" cheering him on from behind the South Range bench, he remembered the last few weeks of practice.
"I was thinking I have to put this in," Good said. "That's what we've been stressing these last two weeks of practice. I make them in practice and I thought I might as well do it when it counts."
Good made the first of his two free throws and the Tigers grabbed the rebound to set up a game winner, but Ron Rogers' shot at the buzzer did not fall as the Raiders survived 55-54.
"I had too much adrenaline rushing through me on the second one that I muscled it too much," Good said. "Thank God I had the first one."
Springfield (10-2, 7-1 in the ITCL upper tier) beat the Raiders 68-66 in overtime on a buzzer beater in the first meeting between the two rivals earlier in the season.
"Their best shooter had the ball to take the last shot," Purins said. "We're just fortunate it went our way tonight."
The Raiders (9-3, 6-2) are one game back of the Tigers with six games to play in the league. East Palestine, who was idle on Friday due to the snowstorm, is also one back of Springfield.
"It stings a little more losing to South Range in that backyard rivalry," Springfield coach Eric Fender said. "Now we've been in each other shoes."
Good led the Raiders with 15 points and 11 rebounds, but he wasn't the only one doing the damage. Andy Lacefield scored all nine of the Raiders' first points on his way to 14. Brandon Pluchinsky bagged nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter.
On the defensive end, it was Ross Stoffer.
"I think Ross Stoffer, who made his first start tonight, really picked it up on the defensive end and that's what really helped us," Good said.
The Raiders held one-point leads after the first quarter and at halftime. They knew that couldn't last on the Tigers' home court if they continued to play they were playing.
"The seniors stepped up and took over the adjustments at halftime," Purins said. "They knew what they saw on the floor and took control of the game."
There was significant separation beginning in the third quarter as the Raiders found a good formula to work with in the paint in opening up what would eventually become a 46-36 lead with 5:30 to go in the game.
That's when Springfield answered the bell.
The Tigers stepped up the defense and forced the Raiders into six turnovers to tie the game at 50 with 1:50 left. They would get their chance to snatch the lead after a Pluchinsky offensive foul gave them possession with 56 seconds left and the game tied at 54. Rogers would miss a baseline runner though and the Raiders got back possession with 14.3 left.
"I'm proud of my kids," Fender said. "We were down 10 and you could see where we were dragging a bit, but we gutted it out, got the game tied and we had the ball with a chance to go ahead."
Rogers finished with 22 points and four rebounds. Nick Russell added 17 points, four rebounds and five blocks. Only three other Tigers scored.
Springfield isn't going to get too down after the loss, though. Of the key games against top contenders (notably Crestview and East Palestine) the Tigers have left, all are at home.
"The ball is still in our court," Fender said. "We're still in the driver's seat. That's the thing we have to stress heading into the rest of the year. If we take care of business, we're all right."
South Range still has work to do, but for now they're enjoying the moment.
"We talked to the guys about controlling what we can control," Purins said. "They never stopped believing."
Both teams play Tuesday as South Range travels to Mineral Ridge and Springfield visits United.
Two lively student sections got into the festivities, but South Range had a unique approach. The Raiders wore all red with one lone student dressed as Moses (complete with beard and cane). Moses parted the Red Sea at halftime. The Raiders' student section also stormed the floor in celebration after the win.
South Range won the jayvee game 48-41. Jake Pfeifer had 24 points for the winners. Springfield was led by Mark Schuler's 11 points.
S. RANGE: 13-11-19-12-55
SOUTH RANGE SCORING: Ron Rogers 6-8-22, Nick Russell 6-5-17, Tom Mastran 1-0-2, Joe Ohlin 0-0-0, Ryan Stacy 0-0-0, Eoghan Bees 2-2-7, Jared McTigue 3-0-6. TEAM TOTALS: 19-38, 11-16: 55.
SPRINGFIELD SCORING: Brandon Pluchinsky 3-3-12, Zac Czopur 2-0-5, Andy Lacefield 6-0-14, Jordan Baker 3-0-6, Dan Good 4-7-15, Isaac Schuster 1-1-3. TEAM TOTALS: 18-45, 15-19: 54.
Three-point goals: South Range 6 (Pluchinsky 3, Lacefield 2, Czopur), Springfield 3 (Rogers 2, Bees).