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Critzer leads Nelson past William Campbell in overtime thriller

posted Jan 23, 2017, 7:22 AM by Kathy Hughes   [ updated Jan 23, 2017, 7:22 AM ]
NCT 0119 Govsbb67NCT 0119 VarGovs5Courtesy of Nelson County Times

Everything seemed to be going against the Nelson varsity boys basketball team in the second half of last Friday’s game. William Campbell put up more points in the third quarter than it had in the entire first half, and the Governors turned the ball over often. By the end of the game, four players fouled out for Nelson, and the Governors had picked up three technical fouls and sent William Campbell to the free-throw line 43 times.

But in the fourth quarter, Nelson amped up the defensive pressure and got key buckets from its senior leader Garrett Critzer and two others off the bench to force overtime, when they eventually pulled off a 64-61 victory.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to see that we got the win at the end,” said Critzer, who finished with a game-high 25 points to follow his 29-point performance in a 72-56 loss at Chatham last Thursday.

Down 57-53 with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation, Dwayne Beverly found the bottom of the net on a putback to pull Nelson within two. On the ensuing inbounds play, William Campbell was called for a travel, which gave Critzer and the Governors a chance to tie or win on a 3.

With three seconds left on the clock, Critzer hit what looked like a 3-pointer to win it, but it was called a 2 after the refs said he had a foot on the line, sending the fast-paced game went to overtime.

“I thought it was going in, it was just an unlucky [call],” Critzer said.

After picking up their third technical of the game when senior Jacob Floyd slapped down the ball on a William Campbell inbounds play, Nelson regained its composure. Critzer then gave Nelson a 61-60 lead on a coast-to-coast layup, and he, Floyd and Nathan Craig hit free throws down the stretch.

Down 64-61 with 12.1 seconds left in the four-minute overtime, William Campbell had a chance to tie but never got a clean look at the basket and couldn’t get a shot off in time thanks to the stifling Nelson defense.

“I told them that we’ve been in this situation before, and nobody was going give it to us,” Nelson coach Brian Wilson said. “… We had to go out there and we had to finish. We had to take charge of things. Despite mistakes and things that had happened, we were still in the right situation to win the game, and it was up to us to go take it.”

Wilson said between the attitude on the sideline and the determination of the players on the court down the stretch, “at the end of the game, they were not going to lose that game.”

The boys will travel to Buffalo Gap on Jan. 19 before hosting Dan River at 7 p.m. Jan. 20.

“I feel like it’s going to be a good stretch from here on,” Critzer said.

Photos by:  Lee Luther, Jr.