By MATTHEW CRESS
When the game’s first offensive rebound fell into its hands and led to the game’s first basket, the Silver Creek boys’ basketball team couldn’t have known it was a play they would repeat all night.
Or maybe it did.
The Dragons out-scrambled, out-hustled and out-muscled host Providence, running out to a 7-1 lead and never trailing in a 68-45 win over the Pioneers at the Robert I. Larkin Center on Tuesday night. Silver Creek ended up doubling Providence’s output on the glass, walking away with a 30-15 edge.
“That’s what we’re good at,” said Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman, who won his second straight in the series. “Hanging in there, grinding things out, playing defense and rebounding. We can be physical and that’s what we want.”
When they weren’t beating Providence on the glass, Silver Creek often found its rhythm in the half-court, using its quickness to generate a steady stream of layups and jumpers off the pick-and-roll. When that didn’t work, Christian Reed was usually there to put it back in. The 6-foot-6 sophomore physically dominated inside, putting up 15 points and grabbing 12 boards, just three less than Providence.
Only a tremendous effort from senior Grant Goad kept the Pioneers alive. He scored 27 points, eight of which came in the first quarter, when he keyed a 9-4 run that took Providence from down 9-3 to within 13-12.
That’s when an unusual play showed the night would belong to the Dragons.
A 3-pointer by Gabe Bauer gave Silver Creek some separation with the clock winding down in the first, at 16-12. The Pioneers looked poised to take the last shot of the frame after a Silver Creek charge with 10 seconds remaining, but Goad was called for a charge with two seconds left and Shae Durham took the inbounds pass near mid-court, took one dribble and banked in a buzzer-beating 3 to give the Dragons a 19-12 lead.
Silver Creek (7-4) had all the momentum it would need from there, getting two buckets inside and a Nick Tinsley layup in transition to take a 25-12 edge. Meanwhile, Providence failed to score for more than four minutes and only Goad challenged the aggressive Silver Creek defense. When Goad missed, there was seldom a Pioneer around the rim.
At one point, Silver Creek had a 16-4 edge in rebounding.
“They just whooped us,” Providence coach Lou Lefevre said. “They play basketball the way that you would want it to be played. Every rebound, they say ‘Im gonna go get it, even if I have to run through a guy’s shoulder to get it.’ There comes a point where you have to match that type of effort and intensity. Silver Creek is very good.”
For Providence (8-4), the story was Goad and fellow senior Nick Hayes. It took until little more than a minute remained in the third quarter before a third Pioneer would find the scoring column, when Ben Shahroudi hit a free throw. Brock Hayden’s 3 in the fourth quarter would be the final scoring from any Pioneer not named Goad or Hayes, who hit his first four shots from the field and managed to finish with 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting.
Still, Goad kept his team afloat long enough to make one final run, hitting a trey and then finding Hayes inside for a basket that made it 55-43 with 3:34 left. Perhaps the Pioneers would have gotten even closer had they not struggled at the foul line, where Providence went 10 of 23.
“You know, if you shoot 19 of 23 there, you’re in the game in the fourth quarter and then anything can happen,” Lefevre said. “Hit those free throws and you’re in a game where you got your butt kicked and don’t deserve to be in.”
Silver Creek slammed the door quickly by going back to what got it the lead to begin with, drawing fouls on drives and cleaning up the offensive glass. Three putbacks, two of them by Reed, came as part of an 11-0 Dragon run that put an exclamation point on a big night.
Or maybe it was a bruise.
“I’m proud of our focus on trying to do all the things that we talked about — getting the best shot possible is huge against Providence,” Hoffman said. “Our guys really get up to play them. We have a lot of respect for this program and to get a win against them is huge. We didn’t think we’d see this many points”
Tinsley had 17 points to lead Silver Creek, which will host Madison on Friday. Durham consistently led the Dragons to easy baskets, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and four assists.
Goad added three rebounds and three assists for Providence, which has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. It’s a fact Lefevre was more than happy to point out after the final buzzer.
“It wasn’t a bad game for us, because that’s been our level of play,” he said. “We can continue to play the way we have been playing, but when you get into the playoffs and face those top teams, it’s not going to come out in your favor. So we have to decide if something is going to change.”
SILVER CREEK 68, PROVIDENCE 45
Silver Creek 19 12 18 21—68
Providence 12 4 12 17—45
Silver Creek (7-5): Tinsley 17, Durham 9, Davidson 10, Bauer 9, Reed 15, Howell 0, Steele 0, Garr 4, Cook 2, Thompson 2.
Providence (8-4): Goad 27, Betz 0, Shahroudi 3, Koerner 0, Hayes 12, Hayden 3, Watson 0, Schuler 0, Carrico 0.
3-point field goals: Silver Creek 2 (Durham, Bauer); Providence 5 (Goad 4, Hayden).
Rebounds: Silver Creek 30 (Reed 12); Providence 14 (Hayes 4).
Assists: Silver Creek 9 (Durham 4); Providence 3 (Goad 2).
Steals: Silver Creek 5 (Davidson 3); Providence 4 (Goad 2).
Blocked shots: Silver Creek 4 (Reed 3); Providence 1 (Goad).
Turnovers: Silver Creek 15, Providence 11.
Fouled out: None.
Technical fouls: None.
Junior varsity: Silver Creek 29-17.