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SEBRING No-room-for-error thriller won by Trojans in overtime



Published: Wed, January 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Joe Springer had the game-winner as Sebring improved to 8-0.

By GARY HOUSTEAU

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

SEBRING -- Joe Springer scored the game-winning basket with .5 seconds remaining Tuesday to provide the Sebring High basketball team with a thrilling 44-43 come-from-behind victory over United in a Tri-County League matchup.

With an undefeated record and No. 10 ranking in Division IV hanging in the balance, Sebring's Greg VanKirk nailed a 3-point basket with 2.2 seconds on the clock that sent the game into overtime and set up another fantastic finish.

A pair of free throws by United's Nick Schneider with 5.7 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Eagles a 43-42 lead and set up the game's heroics by the Trojans, who quickly got the in-bounded ball down the court to VanKirk for what looked to be a game-winning lay-in.

But VanKirk's shot was blocked off the glass and rebounded by Springer, who connected on the short put-back with time running out.

No waiting: "We average about 67 points a game and we're very quick into transition," Sebring coach Brian Clark said. "I just told the kids, 'This is what we're best at, get it out of the free-throw line, get in those lanes and get down floor.'

"All I can say is we found a guy down floor, we took a shot and my guys crashed the basket for an offensive rebound and we had a put-back out of one of our guards."

Sebring (8-0, 4-0) struggled with possession on the inbounds pass for a second or two in the backcourt before finding VanKirk down the floor ahead of the pack.

"Obviously we didn't want a guy to catch it that far down the floor as easily as he did," United coach Herman Miller said. "But I thought we did a good job making them burn some time coming down. I really, honestly, didn't think there was going to be time for a put-back."

Trailing behind the play, Springer was in the right place at the right time.

"I saw VanKirk going to the hoop and I knew that two men were guarding him and I was going to be wide open," Springer said. "I didn't know if he was going to pass it to me or if he was going to miss it. So I got myself in position and fortunately I made the last bucket. It was the greatest feeling of my life."

Lest we forget: The Sebring fans would have never been able to rush the floor after the game in celebration if VanKirk, who led all scorers with 20, wasn't able to get his team into overtime.

The Trojans were just 2 of 6 from the field in the fourth period -- both buckets came on 3-pointers by VanKirk in the final 1:06 of the quarter.

Sebring trailed 35-32 heading into the final frame and United, which shot 1 of 5 in the quarter, increased its lead to 37-32 on an alley-oop bucket by the Eagles' Jason Sidwell. Sidwell finished with nine points and led his team in rebounding with nine caroms.

After VanKirk's first 3 of the quarter, United's Devan Peters made the first of two free throws with 23.9 seconds remaining to make it 38-35. It was VanKirk's second 3-pointer that tied the score at 38 and set the stage for Sebring's dramatic overtime win.

Description: "The whole play was to seal off that side of the 1-3-1 and get our best outside shooter a shot," Clark said. "Greg VanKirk's our leader, good outside shooter, great penetrator. We sealed off the 1-3-1 on the top corner and let him get a stick, see if he can get a look.

"We have a lot of confidence in our guys making that shot and we know who to get the ball to."




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