Cardinals escape nail-biter

HASKELL - The Harmony Grove Cardinals have seen their fair share of ups and downs this season. But when it come to beating a rival like Glen Rose, it is all ups for the moment. Earlier in the season, the Cardinals dominated the Beavers on the road, winning huge 60-36. At the time, that was the Cardinals’ second win of the season.

Up until Tuesday’s match between the two on Harmony Grove’s home floor, the Cardinals were on a terrible stretch of losing six straight. But Tuesday was not near the kind of domination the first match was as the Cardinals were able to escape with the 53-49 victory to end conference with a 2-12 record.

Cardinals senior Jason Hawkins started the game’s scoring with a free throw, followed by senior Wes Hinson with a jumper to put the Cardinals up 3-0 early. A huge 3-pointer by Cardinals’ senior Joel Futrell just seconds later had the game looking like the first match as the Cardinals jumped out to an early 6-0 lead. But then the battle really started once Glen Rose found the basket after a Jeremy Doll jumper. Glen Rose pulled to within one at 6-5 moment later. The Cardinals were able to jump out to an 11-5 lead, but could not hold it as Glen Rose took its first lead at the end of the quarter, ending the opening minutes with a 9-0 run to lead 14-11 at the end of one. That lead didn’t last long as the Cardinals continued to battle and tie the game to open the second quarter thanks to a long 3-pointer from Ryan Rouss to move the score to 14-14 before regaining the lead on a jumper from Futrell to make it 16-14 in the second.

Both teams continued to flip-flop on the scoreboard as the lead changed two more times to end the second half with a 25-21 Cardinals’ lead.

Nothing changed as both teams continued to drain shots from everywhere to begin the second half. Glen Rose took a 27-25 lead to start the third on back-to-back 3-pointers from Doll. But Roush added a jumper to tie things back up moments later at 27-27.

Then the Cardinals pulled out to a 33-30 lead late in the third quarter, but Glen Rose still would not go away as they tied the game at 34-34 on a Cobey Whitlock bucket second later. The game saw three lead changes and three ties to end the third quarter, making way for an exciting fourth quarter.

As both teams continued to trade buckets for most of the fourth, things were all tied up once again at the midway point at 45-45. Another Doll 3-pointer gave Glen Rose the 3-point advantage at 48-45 late in the fourth. But that wouldn’t last as the Cardinals’ Nick Johnson hit a jumper and two foul shots to put his team up by one at 49-48 with under two minutes to play. But Glen Rose still would not fall as they tied the game at 49-49 before allowing the Cardinals to end the contest on a 4-0 run thanks to four straight foul shots by Gabe Richard to give the Cardinals their third win of the season and second against Glen Rose.

For the game, there were 17 lead changes and 13 ties.

Nick Johnson led the Cardinals in scoring with 12, followed by Richard with 10.

“Nick is 100 miles per hour,” Head Coach Richard Moore said. “Sometimes he gets into foul trouble, but you are only going to get one speed from him and it is full speed.”

The Cardinals only shot 27 percent from the field, but Moore was still happy with the overall performance.

“We knew it was going to be this type of game,” Moore said. “They play hard and are well-coached. I give them a lot of credit for their defense because they were a lot better than the first time we played them. They also crashed the boards more aggressively. I’m just glad we escaped with the win.”

Harmony Grove grabbed 35 boards including 15 offensive rebounds. Glen Rose had 25 with nine on the offensive end.

“I thought we showed a lot of character in the end ,” Moore said. “We had a lot of possessions where we turned it over early in fourth but we maintained our composure and pulled it off.”

The Cardinals had 16 turnovers to Glen Rose’s 18.

Whitlock led the Beavers with 19 points while Doll followed with 17. Doll also hit 4 of 8 from the 3-point line.

The Cardinals will play host to Gurdon on Friday night for their final regular season game before heading into the district tournament next week.

Opening tip is set for 7 p.m. in Haskell.