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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Indians no pushovers in Big Spring finals

Thursday, February 19, 2009

ON THE RUN: Couch's Zain Hopper stops in the lane for a hoop in the Big Spring Conference Tournament finals against Eminence. Photo/Mullins
Coming off a hard-fought loss to South Iron the night before, it looked like the Eminence Redwings, the state's third-ranked Class 1 team, might suffer back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

But although they hit just one field goal in the last 12-and-a-half-minutes of the game, the Redwings still managed to fend off a scrappy bunch of Couch Indians for a 58-51 victory in the boys' varsity division of the annual Big Spring Conference Tournament Feb. 11 at Couch High School.

And in the end, the two-time defending conference champs from Eminence got all they wanted from the Indians and had to earn the win from the charity stripe.

James Stephens hit a 3-pointer with 3:33 left in the third period to give the top-seeded Redwings a 39-30 lead.

But then Couch, the tourney's number two seed, came fighting back.

Cody Roberts started a period-ending 9-2 run for the Indians with a steal and layup. Roberts led all scorers with a game-high 20 points and was named to the All-Big Spring Conference Tournament team for Couch. Eddie Meier (four points) added a steal and layup, followed by an old-fashioned 3-point play by Roberts. By the time Derrick Martin dropped in a jumper near the end of the third, Couch had erased a nine-point deficit and was down by two, 41-39, after three.

Then, after trailing the whole contest, the Indians squared the game at 41-all on a jumper from Derek Orchard (five points) to start the fourth.

Eminence regained the lead on free throws, and as it turns out, that was what kept the Redwings afloat in the last eight minutes of play. Eminence got just one field goal in the fourth, but it was a real back-breaker.

With the Redwings clinging to a slim 48-45 lead, Stephens pulled up and hit a corner trey with 1:40 left in the game to extend the Eminence lead to 51-45.

Roberts quickly responded with a pair of buckets for Couch, and Zain Hopper stuck back a missed shot late, but Eminence still ended the game on top, 58-51. The Redwings scored 15 points from the charity stripe in the last period of play.

Eminence jumped in front 5-0 to start the game before Meier tossed in the Indians' first bucket of the night with 5:05 left in the first period.

A layup from Blake Martin (10 points) pulled Couch within four, 8-4, but the Indians got a bit careless with the ball and the Redwings added two straight hoops off turnovers.

Eminence was on top 16-4 deep in the first when Josh Carter (eight points) drilled a 3-ball and Blake Martin added a layup to edge Couch within 16-9 after one.

Though they hit free throws when they really needed them in the fourth, the Redwings struggled a bit from the charity stripe in the second.

Looking to add to a 24-16 lead, Eminence missed four consecutive freebies right before the half, leaving the door open for Couch.

Carter took full advantage for this by blasting his second triple of the first half and Roberts hit a pair from the line to narrow the gap to 26-22, Eminence, at intermission.

Just like they did in the first 16 minutes of action, the Indians kept plugging away to start the third, never letting the Redwings pull too far away.

The Redwings did move on top by nine late in the third, but Couch peeled off a nice run to edge within two at the end of the third.

But in the end, the Redwings did just enough to hold off the hard-charging Indians, and take home another Big Spring Conference Tournament championship trophy.

Jay Williams led Eminence with 15 points, while Nathan Nichols added 14. Both were selected for the All-Tournament team.

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