Eaton Rapids opened up a 21-point third-quarter lead over CAAC Gold rival Charlotte, but had to fight off a furious Oriole comeback attempt before hanging on for a 64-56 win Friday night.
Ryan Peterson led all scorers with 26 points for Charlotte (5-7 , 3-6 CAAC Gold), the last of which made it a one-possession game, 59-56, going into the final minute of play.
But those would be the last points the Orioles would muster, and the Greyhounds converted three of their four free throws in the last 18.1 seconds to seal the win.
Eaton Rapids coach Luke Brown said he chose to focus on the positive of closing out the win rather than the negative of nearly surrendering a 21-point cushion.
“In games like these, you take wins any way you can get them,” Brown said. “I’m not the kind of guy to dwell on how you win, I’m just happy to get the win.”
Andrew Wright led Eaton Rapids (8-6, 4-5) with 24 points and Jared McDaniel had 14 and Sheldon Holmes came off the bench to score 10 for the Greyhounds, who led 28-15 at the half.
Eaton Rapids opened the third quarter with a 9-1 run to take what looked like a safe 37-16 lead less than two minutes after the break. Charlotte started the comeback from there, starting with the first of two three-point plays by Peterson in the span of a minute. The Orioles went on a 19-3 run that concluded with a steal and layup by Matthew Donley that cut the Eaton Rapids lead to 40-35 with 32 seconds left in the third.
Another Donley steal and layup made it a one-possession game, 46-43 with 6:22 left in the fourth, but the Orioles would get no closer.
Charlotte coach Jake Briney said poor shooting got his team into the hole from which it had to dig themselves out. His team hit just two of their 15 3-point attempts in the first half and converted 11 of 27 free throws in the game.
“We shot a little better in the second half,” Briney said, “but you can’t miss 16 free throws and expect to beat anybody at the Class B level. It’s just not going to happen.”