Late run lifts Grove City over Big Walnut


A three-pointer by Grove City guard Kevin Gallagher tied the game at 41 early in the fourth quarter and the Greyhounds took off from there, using a 16-3 run to pull away from Big Walnut on the way to a 54-46 Division I sectional final win Friday night in Sunbury.

Sophomore guard Brody Hatfield orchestrated the Big Walnut offensive attack early on, dishing off dimes as the Golden Eagles got some easy buckets. Grove City senior big man Kraig Gilbert, who had seven first-quarter points, sprayed a triple to cut the deficit to three, 16-13, by the end of the quarter.

A defensive battle ensued to end the half. Senior forward Trent Minor showcased his defensive presence, forcing several Greyhound turnovers. Hatfield hit a three on the right wing, then threw a crisp, no-look pass the next possession to create an easy layup in transition.

Big Walnut led at the break, 24-20, but Grove City surged out of the locker room to take the lead early in the third. A powerful and-one by Gilbert extended an 8-0 run for the Greyhounds, causing Big Walnut coach Brady Prugh to call a much-needed timeout.

The Golden Eagles responded well, with Minor and senior guard Graham Federer knocking down big three-pointers to close out the quarter clinging to a 37-34 lead.

Minor added another field goal to begin the fourth quarter, increasing Big Walnut’s lead to five.

After Minor’s basket, though, the Greyhound offense went on a tear. Gallagher and Gilbert piled up threes of their own to go up 44-41. Junior guard Demetri Adado, along with Gilbert, proved to be clutch defensive anchors for Grove City down the stretch, too. Gilbert took a hard charge with 3:08 left, creating an eruption of cheers from the Greyhound faithful.

Grove City continued to collect much-needed stops toward the end of the game. By the time the clock was ticking under a minute, the Golden Eagles started to foul, hoping the Greyhounds would miss a few free throws. Gallagher and Gilbert took care of business, though, extending the lead.

Big Walnut scratched and clawed for desperation threes. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

“I think we settled for some bad shots in the fourth quarter,” Prugh said. “We had a couple of turnovers in some bad spots. We got a five-point lead and settled for some outside looks, and I think we could’ve hammered it in inside. They are a team that can score really well, and we stopped scoring because of some timely turnovers.”

Although their Golden Eagle careers are over, the six seniors — Minor, Federer, Jack Lamb, Tommy Mahle, Conor Watters and Tommy Campana — had nothing but praise coming from Prugh.

“These guys have had winning seasons every year they have been here,” he said. “The biggest thing is the type of people they are … they are great kids who have great futures, on and off the basketball court.”

Minor led the way for Big Walnut with 15 points. Hatfield scored 10, and showed his great court vision, dumping off a number of assists. Federer added 10 points of his own.

Gilbert had a game-high 20 for Grove City, in addition to a plethora of rebounds. Gallagher and senior guard Kyland Meldon finished with 10 points each.

Next up, Grove City will face off against Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal Wednesday at a site to be determined. Tip is slated for 7 p.m.

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