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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Huntington North guard Hank Pulver, left and Mitchell Geller, leap in excitement after Pulver made a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer Friday night to defeat Wayne 56-55 and advance the Vikings to tonight's sectional championship game.

Saturday, March 03, 2018 1:00 am

Boys Basketball: Sectionals

Vikings drain 3 at buzzer to stun Generals

Homestead rallies past Archers to reach final

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

HUNTINGTON – Huntington North's Hank Pulver grabbed the inbounds pass with his team trailing Wayne by 2.4 on the clock in the first of two Class 4A sectional semifinals Friday night at Huntington North.

Pulver worked his way up the court, eventually spinning to face the basket at the top of the key, where he launched a 3-pointer a split second before the final buzzer sounded. 

The ball curled in, making the host Vikings a 56-55 winner and prompting a mad rush of Huntington North students onto the court, culminating in a jubilant mass at the opposite baseline with Pulver at the center.

The junior led his team with 19 points, 12 in the second half.

“We work on it almost every day, but when you're in an atmosphere like this, you really just have to get down the floor,” Pulver said of the last play. “I turned around, let it fly. It felt good, I thought it was going to bank in, but it went, rattled. It's indescribable, really.”

This wasn't the first time the final play, which Viking scoach Craig Teagle called “Home Run” had worked this season. Guard Zach Daugherty hit a similar game-winner against Plymouth on Feb. 16, Teagle said.

“When you put all that time in, it's nice to see you execute,” Teagle said. “But you can run those plays 100 times and they may only work a couple.”

Unlike Pulver's final shot, most of his work came down low, where he finished repeatedly in traffic, punctuating most baskets with a fist pump. He scored seven points in the fourth quarter as Huntington North (19-6) erased a 10-point deficit at the start of the period. 

“He just decided he was going to dominate inside,” Teagle said. “We just decided they couldn't stop him, so we just kept calling his number there for a while, and he made some big shots around the rim. You always want someone as the go-to guy.”

Craig Young scored 16 points, including eight in the third quarter, to lead the Generals (16-7).

After the post-game court storming had quieted, the Huntington North fans returned to their seats and began to chant, “We want Homestead.”

For a while in the second game of the night, it looked as if they would be denied their wish. The Spartans (18-7) trailed by 11 at halftime against South Side before rallying with a huge third quarter and winning 65-63.

One of the key stretches in the Homestead comeback came midway through the decisive third period. Forward Sam Buck, who had just two points in the first half, hit back-to-back 3-pointers from the same spot in the corner to trim what had been seven-point deficit to one.

Buck finished with 12 points in the second half, including four 3s.

“In the first half, we were really stagnant, we weren't moving the ball well,” Buck said. “We shoot well when we move the ball and make the right passes and shoot at the right times. I was forcing in the first half.”

Guard Grant Raber also had a huge second half for the Spartans, scoring 20 points. He repeatedly finished at the rim and made four free throws in the final seconds to seal the victory. Raber was 11 for 11 at the free throw line.

Trejean Didier and Asher Blum had 14 points apiece for South Side (13-12).

Homestead will meet Huntington North tonight for the sectional title. The Vikings, who haven't won a sectional championship since 2001, beat the Spartans 69-46 in November.

dsinn@jg.net