COEBURN — For more than 3½ periods, the Eastside and Haysi boys basketball teams traded jabs, but it was the Spartans who landed the last blow for a 69-66 Region 1A West quarterfinal win Tuesday night.
With just over a minute to go in regulation, Derrick Cusano sank two free throws to give Eastside a 67-66 lead it didn’t squander.
The basket was part of an 8-2 run after the Spartans had trailed the visiting Tigers by five.
Matt Green’s basket just one minute earlier had given Eastside its first lead of the second half at 65-64.
“The principals got this one right, for this was a tournament atmosphere,” said Eastside coach Patrick Damron.
“Everybody struggled, but Matt stepped up and no doubt he wanted the ball, He also had a big block and was one of the guys we needed to step up tonight.”
Green finished the night with 18 points.
Two free throws by Eastside’s Wes Yeary accounted for the final margin.
The Spartans had five players in double-figure scoring. Cusano had 14 points and Ryan Milgrim chipped in 12. Austin Buchanan and Yeary had 10 points each.
Haysi had its opportunities.
Holding a 35-34 halftime lead, the Tigers led by as many a 10 points late in the third period but turnovers kept their lead from growing.
And following Cusano’s pivotal free throws and a little less than 30 seconds remaining in the game, Haysi had the ball underneath its own basket and the chance to take the lead.
That’s when the Spartans’ Matt Buchanan stepped in with what was essentially the game-saving play.
Buchanan came up with a steal that in essence sealed the win. It was one of six steals he had on the evening, part of a team-total 28.
Haysi managed just four points in the last four minutes of the contest.
Eastside’s win overshadowed strong performances by Haysi’s Hunter Sutherland and Will Ratliff.
Sutherland pumped in a game-high 30 points that included seven 3-pointers. Ratliff dominated on the inside and recorded a triple-double. The 6-foot-6 sophomore had 11 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks.
“This was a great atmosphere for our kids. Our kids came to play and Eastside is tough,” said Haysi coach David Robinette. “We start four sophomores and a junior and our teams are a lot alike. Both get after it and don’t take plays off.”
Eastside (19-6), the Cumberland District champion, moved into the Region 1A west semifinals to face Galax (18-4) on Friday at Virginia High School.
The Spartans’ win rounded out a perfect home record this season. The team finished with a 13-0 mark.comments powered by Disqus