PRINCETON (WVDN) – The Greenbrier West Cavaliers suffered a 69-64 setback to the Mercer Christian Cavaliers Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Johnston Baptist Church campus. In a game of runs that included 16 lead changes and six ties, the game was a nip-and-tuck affair throughout. Neither team led by more than 6 points at any one point of the game.
In a precursor of things to come, Mercer sophomore M.J. Patton drilled a 3 for the game’s first basket. He followed with another 3 for Mercer’s first 6 points. Mercer Christian bolted out to the early 9-4 lead before Greenbrier West battled back with an 8-0 run. Dale Boone got things started when he maneuvered in the lane for a short one-hander that bobbled on the back-iron before falling through. Boone then beat his defender with a drive to the basket for the layin high off the glass. Michael Kanode got his first 2 points on a rebound and putback. Matthew Thomas did the same, and West was in the lead at 12-9. Mercer Christian responded with a 6-0 spurt in the final 1:49 to lead 15-12 at the end of the quarter.
Briar Lucas extended the run to 9-0 with the traditional 3-point play, putting Mercer up 18-12 at the 7:33 mark of the second quarter. After each team traded baskets, Sam Boothe hit a 3 to leave West trailing 22-16. West would respond with a 7-0 run. Kanode knocked down a pair of free throws then pulled down an offensive rebound that he kicked in the corner to Boone. Boone drilled the 3. Kanode pulled another offensive rebound and scored on the putback to take a 23-22 lead.
Things got interesting at that point. The two squads took turns exchanging the lead for seven consecutive possessions. Patton hit a layup for Mercer, and Hagy countered with a 10-foot jumper. Boothe drove the baseline for a finger-roll. Boone then drove the middle of the lane with a spin and a backhanded flip off the glass. Isaac Sharp snuck behind the West defense for an easy layup. West had further scoring opportunities but missed a pair of free throws and a runner in the lane.
After a Mercer miss, McClung gave West the lead with a layup. Mercer answered with a short jumper in the paint from Sharp. Greenbrier West tied the game at 30 with a McClung free throw but failed to take the lead when he missed the second shot. Shayne Basham vaulted Mercer back in the lead with a corner 3 leaving West with 15 seconds to work. Kanode had the ball deflect away in the lane, leaving West with only seconds for an inbound play. Hagy got McClung the ball in the corner, but he couldn’t connect. Mercer led 33-30 at the half.
After a Boothe 3 stretched the Mercer lead to 6 to start the second half, Greenbrier West took the cue that it was time to get going. Boone started a 10-0 run with a pair of free throws. Boone tipped a missed shot to Kanode, and the big man laid it in for two. Kanode scored the next 4 West points on putbacks, and a McClung layup put West up 40-36.
Having been held scoreless for much of the quarter, Mercer fought back with a 9-0 flurry. Lucas started the rally with a 3, and Boothe drilled a 3 from the corner to reclaim the lead. Basham connected with a third consecutive 3 to increase the advantage to 45-40.
In the recurring theme of the ballgame, Greenbrier West answered with a 7-0 spurt of their own. Asher Barclay sank a free throw followed up by a rebound and putback from Kanode. Chris Davis stole a pass at midcourt and breezed in for a layup. Disaster nearly struck when Boothe picked Kanode’s pocket near the Mercer basket, but Kanode cleaned the boards on the next shot. West held the lead, 47-45, after three.
Kanode knocked down the first shot of the fourth quarter, extending West’s run to 9-0 for a 49-45 advantage. Boothe then hit another 3 for Mercer, trimming West’s lead to 1. McClung answered with a layup for West, but Mercer was just determined to fight back.
Patton sank a 10-foot jumper and then drilled a 3 to give Mercer a 2-point lead. West tied things on a pair of McClung free throws followed by a Basham foul shout for Mercer. Hagy responded with a corner 3 that gave Greenbrier West a 56-54 lead. Boothe then drilled a 3 from the top of the key to reclaim the Mercer advantage at 57-56. Hagy again threaded the needle from the left corner, but the officials determined his foot was on the line. The 2 for West gave them a 58-57 lead, but Boothe popped another 3 for Mercer to push them back in lead with 3:44 left. McClung tied things up at 60 with a runner, but a seventh-made 3 for Boothe boosted Mercer back out front 63-60.
West’s last gasp hinged on a final Kanode putback followed by a steal. McClung missed the front end of a two-shot foul but sank the second to knot things up at 63 with 1:01 left on the clock. Boothe narrowly missed his eighth 3 of the night from the left corner, but the 2 would be sufficient. Parker tried to zip a pass in the low post to Kanode that was bobbled and trickled out of bounds. Patton was fouled with under 30 seconds to go and sank both free throws. Kanode was fouled on the other end with 15.8 seconds remaining. Kanode sank the first but missed the second, leaving the West deficit at 3 points. Patton was fouled with 13.7 left in regulation, but he made it a two-possession game, sinking both free throws for a 69-64 lead.
Kanode, West’s leading scorer on the evening, launched a 3 that fell short and was tipped out of bounds with 6.3 remaining. Boone worked himself free into the right corner and launched a 3 that just missed its mark. The ball bounded off the back iron and over the backboard, giving Mercer Christian the 69-64 win.
For Greenbrier West, Kanode tallied a double-double with 23 points and 14 rebounds. His point total was a career-high, and the rebounding numbers were one shy of his career-high, a mark he’s hit three times. Boone notched his first career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 10 rebounds. McClung added 12 points and Hagy 9.
Mercer Christian’s all-time leading scorer, Boothe, led all scorers with 28 points. M.J. Patton added 22.
GW: 12 18 17 17 – 64
MCA: 15 18 12 24 – 69
Greenbrier West – Michael Kanode 21, Dale Boone 13, Braydon McClung 12, Tanner Hagy 9, Chris Davis 4, Matthew Thomas 2, Isaac Agee 2, Asher Barclay 1. Totals: 25 12-19 64.
Mercer Christian – Sam Boothe 28, M.J. Patton 22, Shaye Basham 9, Briar Lucas 6, Isaac Sharp 4. Totals: 24 7-9 69.
3-pointers – GW: 2 (Hagy, Boone); MCA: 14 (Boothe 7, Patton 4, Basham 2, Lucas).