With some major accomplishments under their belts in the past several seasons, just where did a Logan-Rogersville win Thursday at Greenwood rank?
“It’s the cherry on top,” senior point guard Kanon Gipson said. “We’ve got a great season in the making already. I’ve got a lot of friends on that team and been waiting to beat them for a very long time. [We’ve got] bragging rights now.”
“My heart is still racing.”
Though the Wildcats have hit high marks the past several seasons, including reaching the Final Four and lifting silverware at the Blue and Gold Tournament, a win over the Blue Jays has eluded them. Greenwood beat them 70-68 two seasons ago, and more decisively in Rogersville last year.
On their third try, the visitors entered the laboratory school’s new gymnasium and pulled out a 46-44 victory.
“My freshman year we couldn’t even compete with this kid,” said L-R junior JJ O’Neal, referencing Greenwood’s superstar Aminu Mohammed, a Georgetown commit ranked top-20 in the Class of 2021. “He was a sophomore at that time and flying by everybody. My sophomore year we weren’t even close and we played like crap; he was pulling up and hitting everything, making every layup. I don’t know what’s different now –– it’s probably [transfer Jonathan Dunn] to be honest –– but it feels amazing to finally beat him.”
Able to tie the game at 42 on Wildcats sophomore Curry Sutherland's jumper from wide of the elbow with a little over three minutes to go, both teams fumbled chances to take the lead with multiple turnovers, though Greenwood eventually capitalized on one that led to a Mohammed dunk with 1:50 left.
Sutherland split his two shots from the charity stripe with 1:38 left to pull it within one. Though he was unable to snuff out the Blue Jays’ lead, Gipson (13 points) did when he snared a pass and took it for a layup that put Rogersville up 45-44 with a minute remaining.
Senior Zach Bergman drew an offensive foul that gave the Wildcats the ball back, but after milking the clock and earning a trip to the line, Dunn couldn't sink either of his free throws with 18 ticks remaining. Greenwood went the length of the court and elected for a layoff pass to Kaden Stuckey on the low block, however his look didn't fall and the Wildcats earned more free throws after snaring the rebound.
Gipson, fouled with 3.6 seconds on the clock, connected on just one of his free throws, but Mohammed, playing with four fouls for the entirety of the quarter, elected for a pass to teammate Tommy Pinegar that was sent off-target and streaked out of bounds to seal the Wildcats' win.
“I just felt like we probably put him in that position,” Rogersville head coach John Schaefer said. “He could have pulled up and took a tough shot or made that pass. Pinegar, if that pass is there, you’re going to get a good look.”
Though he finished with 23 points, Mohammed was limited to only the aforementioned dunk in the final period, arguably constrained by his four personals.
O’Neal, limited this season by injury and multiple quarantines, helped fuel the Wildcats as they exited halftime trailing 23-22. He connected on a 3-pointer and drew a charge to help open the third quarter on a torrid run.
The junior guard hit another triple at the end of the third that gave the Wildcats a 38-37 advantage and some welcome momentum after Pinegar hit multiple 3s several minutes before that helped keep the Blue Jays at pace.
“Coach has been telling me to shoot all year and I have no idea why,” said O’Neal, who finished with nine points. “But I hit one already and I was kinda feeling it, so why not? I knew time was winding down but I didn’t realize it was that close [when] I hit it.”
A majority of the rest of Rogersville’s points came from Dunn, who scored a team-high 14.
“Aminu is ranked near the top of the nation for a reason, and it’s really nice putting a Division 1 body on him,” Gipson said.
Of the big-time matchup, Dunn said, "I was very excited for this game. I feel like with my size and motor it really helped us. We knew that they were good and had to match their hustle and energy, and we did that."
The Wildcats, who handed Greenwood only its third loss of the year, are now 13-4 and undefeated in their past six since Dunn became eligible.