On Saturday, the Eagles got it.
In a fast-paced contest filled with momentum shifts, Etowah came from behind to beat Pope 62-60 on a last-second layup that capped a game that seemed as if it would slip from Etowah’s grasp.
After trailing for most of the fourth period, Etowah (5-9) managed to tie it up with 2 minutes remaining, and with 7.8 seconds left on the clock, it had a chance to inbound the ball to go for the win.
After Cole Dotson found an open Jack Shaughnessy on the inbound pass, Shaughnessy raced from one end of the court to the other and passed it off to Josh Fulenwider, whose short-range layup found the net with only 2 seconds remaining.
With no timeouts left, Pope (11-4) could only watch in vain as time expired and the Eagles celebrated what may be their biggest win of the season.
“For us to beat a team like Pope was huge,” Etowah coach Don Hurlburt said. “Late in the game, it looked like we had given it away. Pope had all the momentum, so for us to come back and win a game like that really showed some mental toughness.”
Pope may rue a slow first period which saw Etowah storm out to a 15-6 lead.
After spending the first period seemingly unable to make a shot, the Greyhounds began to find not only their range, but their inside presence as well, thanks in large part to Garrick DeBowles.
After trailing 21-8 less than a minute into the second, Pope outscored Etowah 20-10 for the rest of the period and entered halftime down by only three.
DeBowles finished the half with 12 points, all of which came in the second period.
The Greyhounds’ good fortune continued as the third quarter opened. They ended the period with a 47-43 lead and extended it to a 55-47 lead 3 minutes into the fourth.
Having shut down Shaughnessy, Etowah’s leading scorer, throughout the game, it seemed that Pope would come out on top, but Destin Porche didn’t let that happen.
Having scored eight of the game’s first 16 points, Porche, despite finding pressure in his face all night, hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to keep the Eagles alive.
“Destin was great. He is such a pure shooter,” Hurlburt said. “We tell him, as long as his feet are set, keep shooting.”
After Trevor Head tied the game at 60 with 2 minutes to play, the Eagles managed to draw a charge during Pope’s final possession, which set up Fulenwider’s game-winning shot.
Porche finished the game with a team-high 20 points, 18 of which came from his six 3s. Adam Hogue had nine points, while Head finished with eight and Fulenwider five.
Pope coach Pat Abney credited Etowah’s ability to close the game in its final minutes, as well as his own team’s poor night from the free-throw line, as the reasons for the Greyhounds’ loss.
“Etowah made plays down the stretch, and they deserved to win,” said Abney, whose squad was 14-of-27 from the line. “We made turnovers and missed a bunch of free throws, and you’re not going to win many games when you do that.”
Andrew Mendel led the Greyhounds with 20 points, while DeBowles finished with 15. T.J. Hutchins had 10.
Pope, after beginning the season with a 9-1 record, has since lost three of its last five games.
Pope 54, Etowah 38: After a dominant first period that saw them outscore the Lady Eagles 22-7, the Lady Greyhounds coasted to victory in a contest that they were never in any real danger of losing.
Etowah’s best chance to make up ground came in the third period, when it held Pope (11-4) to only four points, but the Lady Eagles (6-8) only managed to score four in return and could not trim the 16-point gap they saw themselves facing as they entered the fourth.
Pope saw three players break double digits in scoring, led by Andrea Brown’s 18 points. Kierra Henry added 17, and Samantha Gelfand finished with 15.
Brown (10 assists) and Henry (14 rebounds) each had double-doubles on the night.
Sophomore Shakyna Payne was the only Etowah player to reach double figures, scoring 20 points. Scottlyn James finished with eight.