Friday night’s District 1-2A showdown between North Webster and Evangel featured hard fouls and a wild atmosphere.
But North Webster sophomore guard Lyntravious Gipson wasn’t fazed by the noise or rough play.
Gipson calmly reeled off 14 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, as the Knights (13-4, 2-1) pulled away late in a 66-61 win on the road.
“It was exciting tonight, I always look forward to playing against these guys,” Gipson said. “It’s good competition. I’ve played with the Evangel players a lot in summer ball, so we were talking a lot back and forth. It felt good to get the win.”
On the other side, Evangel senior Trent Taylor put in 30 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter as well, to keep the Eagles (10-12, 2-2) close.
“This is a brutal district,” North Webster coach Rodney Thrash said. “A real brutal district. It’s going to be an interesting race.”
Evangel trailed by one point at the end of the first quarter, 18-17, and by one point at half time, 36-35.
In the third quarter, the intensity picked up.
With Evangel up 37-36, North Webster’s Devin White took a hard foul while trying to finish a fast break. The foul was ruled intentional, but White was assessed a technical as well.
White missed both free throws, Taylor made two for Evangel, and the Eagles stole the game’s momentum. The third quarter became even stranger, when Evangel ran more than 2 minutes off the clock with a stalling offense.
The teams combined for 10 points in the third, and Evangel took a 43-40 lead to the fourth.
That lead grew to 48-42 after Benny Pineset, who finished with 19 points, grabbed an offensive rebound and made a putback with 6:55 left in the game.
“We tell the guys never, never give up,” Thrash said. “They didn’t, and we were fortunate to get back in the game playing on the road like that.”
Gipson, however, started a 10-0 run that turned that deficit into a 52-48 North Webster lead with a little more than four minutes remaining.
“I think both teams got a little bit tired in transition defense,” Thrash said. “It opened us up a little bit in the fourth. They came with so much intensity, and we had to try to match it. I know a few of my players were tired late, and I know some of theirs were too.”
Gipson sparked the spurt with a bank shot. Then White made a putback layup, Dontavious Smith made a layup, White made another putback, and Gipson got a steal that led to a pair of points from the free-throw line.
“I thought (Gipson) made plays when he had to make plays,” Evangel coach Rene Mason said. “This time of the year, great players make those plays.”
Taylor made a three-point play in the lane to get the Eagles back within a point at 52-51 with 3:50 left, but that is as close as they could get to the Knights.
Taylor made two more off-balance 3-pointers at the end of the game.
“I’m proud of my kids,” Mason said. “My kids fought their butts off. I don’t think (North Webster) tightened up on defense. They just wore us down. They had so many bodies. They played a heck of a basketball game and deserved to win tonight.”
But Gipson made all eight of his fourth-quarter free throws, including the final two points of the game with eight seconds remaining to put Evangel away.
“Coach told us there would be some storms tonight, so we just had to keep playing,” Gipson said. “I shoot 50 free throws a practice. It is exciting when it pays off.”