By Kyle Parmley
TRUSSVILLE – Regulation was not enough to determine the outcome of this contest.
In an intense battle between neighboring schools, Hewitt-Trussville took down Pinson Valley, 74-66, in overtime on Thursday night at Bryant Bank Arena.
The entire game was a back-and-forth affair. Hewitt-Trussville (2-0) led by a handful throughout the first half, but Pinson Valley (0-1) tied things up early in the third quarter. The game remained tight the rest of the way.
To set the stage for the game-winning moment, Chris Lewis and Harrison Stanley each scored to give the Huskies a four-point lead in the opening stages of the extra period. The Indians responded, scoring four straight points after Trey Minnifield converted a basket along with the foul, and Duncan Merriweather hit a jumper following a rebound of the missed free throw.
Damon Harper put Hewitt-Trussville ahead with a pair of free throws, and Sam Frazier stole the moment on the Huskies’ next possession.
Harper stole the ball, and looked up to find Frazier alone on the wing. With a defender flying towards him, Frazier gave a hard pass fake.
“For a second, he was going to pass. I could see it in his eyes,” Husky interim head coach Marcus Thomas said.
But Frazier did not pass. He lined up and took the shot. The ball hit nothing but the bottom of the net, putting the Huskies up five points and essentially clinching the final result. It was Frazier’s only basket of the night.
“When he raised up to shoot it, I said, ‘Good for you, Sam.’ He didn’t shoot well the first game and actually hadn’t shot well in practice. But he shot it and overcame the fear of missing,” Thomas said.
Harper sent the game to overtime moments earlier, as he buried a 3-point shot after coming off a screen and finding himself wide open. The sophomore was on fire all night long, finishing with 30 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
In just two games this season, he has demonstrated the ability to create his own shot, and is deadly from the beyond the 3-point arc.
“Most people don’t know this, but he gets to the basket better than he shoots the ball,” Thomas said. “I’m waiting for people to really get up on him, so he can blow past. When he can do that, you will really see the total package.
“He still has a long way to go. He still has to understand being a point guard,” he said.
Hewitt-Trussville took possession of the ball with 1:54 to play in the fourth quarter and the game tied. Thomas told his team that he only wanted one shot in that time span. The Huskies burned a pair of timeouts in the process, but got a look in the closing seconds. The shot missed, and Pinson Valley only had time for a half-court heave, that fell off the mark.
Pinson Valley held the Huskies to just five points in the third quarter, tying things with a 6-0 run to start the half. After a pull up jumper from Merriweather midway through the quarter, the Indians would not trail again until overtime.
Minnifield was a standout player for the Indians, notching a double-double with 11 points and ten rebounds. He also had an emphatic blocked shot in the fourth quarter during a Hewitt-Trussville fast break. Merriweather led the team with 13 points, and Cornell Hale and Elijah McKinney were also in double figures, with 12 and ten points respectively.
The Huskies have played two nail-biters, a trend that their coach expects to continue.
“I would like to think that they understand that 80% of our games are going to be grind-it-out games. Ultimately, I think we did a better job tonight (than against Pleasant Grove) against a very formidable opponent.”
Thomas lauded the efforts of the Indians afterwards.
“The first game, we had the momentum for the majority of the game. In this game, the momentum was about 50-50 to be honest with you. They came in here and played very well. Their guards were solid and they made some big shots.”
Lewis provided crucial minutes for Hewitt-Trussville, as he contributed 13 points to the cause. Josh Monski scored seven points in the first half before going down with an ankle injury.
Both student sections were involved in the game as well, as a pseudo-dance competition broke out between the third and fourth quarters and made for an entertaining atmosphere.
Hewitt-Trussville plays another rivalry game on Monday, as they travel to play Clay-Chalkville. Tip time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Pinson Valley hosts Shades Valley at the same time.