After getting their traditional late start to the basketball season because of football season, the Salem Greyhounds were starting to find their basketball legs as of late, as evidenced by their win over ICC for the Izard County Invitational Title late last month.
Unfortunately for Hound fans, Salem's growth-spurt came to an abrupt halt with a season-ending 46-44 loss to the homestanding Sloan-Hendrix Greyhounds Feb. 15 in first round action from the 2AA-North District Tournament in Imboden.
Sloan-Hendrix' Cody Slusser hit a pair of free throws with a shade over 10 seconds left on the game clock to give his squad a two-point win over fifth-seeded Salem.
Coach Wendall Smith's team closes the season with a mark of 13-13.
With his team down 32-24 entering the final frame against fourth-seeded Sloan-Hendrix, Kyle Estes fought back for Salem with back-to-back buckets to help keep Salem afloat. Estes paced Salem with 16 points on the night.
Chad Willett (13 points) chipped in with a hoop, and just like that, Salem had cut Sloan-Hendrix' lead to two, 32-30.
This didn't last long as Sloan-Hendrix got a couple of hoops to go back up by six.
At that point, Salem's long-distance assault got on track.
Estes jacked a trey. Phillip Taylor (five points) then chimed in with a triple, as did Willett, tying things at 44-all.
But Slusser ended up having the last say on this night.
Driving into the middle of the lane on Sloan-Hendrix' next possession, Slusser was fouled. He then stepped to the charity stripe and dropped in a pair that put his team on top 46-44 with 10 ticks left to play.
The Hounds raced downcourt and got off a trey that missed the mark. Dusty York (two points) got the board for Salem, but his putback also missed its mark, leaving Salem two points shy of Sloan-Hendrix.
Nathan Criss tallied six points for Salem, while Lance Powell added two.
Sloan-Hendrix went on to upset top-seeded Norfork in the semifinals before falling to second-seeded Viola in the finals.