ELKHART — Blake Garretson was rather nonchalant about his game-winning bucket for the Jimtown boys basketball team on Tuesday.
"I saw Preston (Phillips) driving, so I just went to the basket,'' Garretson said. "I had good position and when the rebound came to me, I just put it back in.''
Just that simple.
Garretson's only points of the night – and his first two of the season – came with 2.8 seconds remaining and the Jimmies trailing South Bend Washington by one. His easy bank shot pushed Jimtown's record to 2-0 on the young season and gave them a 1-0 mark in the Northern Indiana Conference.
"Our guys didn't blink,'' Jimtown coach Matt Schauss said. "It helps that we have five seniors that have seen a lot of close games over the past two years. When we as coaches were getting edgy, it seemed like they were keeping things together.''
Washington led by 10 points in the first half, with the Jimmies' top two scorers (Phillips and Braydon Rice) in foul trouble.
The Panthers' lead was still seven (50-43) after a layup by senior Jylen Petty with 4:22 to play. But that's when the Jimmies' started their final comeback.
After a pair of free throws by Phillips, senior guard Bill Pawlak hit his third 3-pointer of the quarter to cut the Washington lead to two. After a Panther miss, Phillips hit a driving layup in traffic to tie the game at 50 with 3:09 still to play.
"The seniors got together during a timeout and told ourselves that we had to play better defense,'' Garretson said. "I thought that was the most important part of the comeback in the fourth quarter.''
After a bucket by the Panthers' Jason Jones, Rice hit a driving layup to tie it again with 1:21 left. Rice would then hit one-of-two from the free throw line with 53 seconds to play, but Washington's Jylen Petty, who was outstanding all evening, scored with 26 ticks left to put the Panthers up 54-53.
Jimtown set-up the 6-foot-7 Phillips for the final shot. The talented lefty drove against Washington's Demarcus Vaughn, but his shot was partially blocked by Petty. But the rebound went directly to Garretson on the right block and the senior's shot went high off the glass and in to give the Jimmies' the lead for good.
After three timeouts, Petty's shot from well beyond half-court missed to the left and Jimtown clinched the win.
"I am really proud of these kids for earning this win,'' Schauss said. "We had all kinds of foul trouble in the first half and both Preston and Braydon having to play through it with two fouls apiece and I thought (Washington) coach (Ryan) Varga did a great job of using his experienced kids to take advantage of that.''
Trailing 13-12 with 5:04 to play in the second quarter, Washington got a layup from Jason Jones and then two 3-pointers from Petty and a third from Janye Griffin to take a 23-13 lead with 2:07 left in the first half.
But the Jimmies' hung tough, as first Clay Campbell and then Phillips scored in the final minute, to make it a six-point game at halftime.
One of the keys to the comeback was the play of Pawlak in the second half. After going scoreless in the first half, the 6-2 senior scored all 13 of his points in the final 16 minutes, including those three big 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
"I was a little worried about Bill after the first half and last Friday against Concord (3 points),'' Schauss admitted. "But he's a confident kid and he knows to just keep shooting. He's been great in practice and those shots finally started to fall when we needed them most.
Phillips led the Jimmies with 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists on the night, while Pawlak had his 13 points and Rice netted nine for Jimtown. Petty topped Washington with 21 points.
JIMTOWN 55, SB WASHINGTON 54
WASHINGTON: Jylen Petty 10-23 1-1 23, Janye Griffin 5-11 1-2 15, Jason Jones 4-7 1-2 10, Demarcus Vaughn 1-6 0-0 2, Cortez Redmond 2-5 0-0 4, Marcus Northern 0-0 0-0 0, Kenyon Grant 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-53 3-5 54.
JIMTOWN: Bill Pawlak 5-10 0-0 13, Clay Campbell 3-9 2-3 8, Preston Phillips 8-15 3-4 20, Braydon Rice 4-4 1-2 9, Blake Garretson 1-3 0-0 2, Hunter Konrath 1-3 0-0 3, Beau Barhams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 22-44 6-9 55.
3-point goals: Washington (7) – Griffin 4, Petty 2, Jones; Jimtown (5) – Pawlak 3, Phillips, Konrath. Total fouls: Jimtown 12, Washington 11. Turnovers: Jimtown 10, Washington 6. Records: Jimtown 2-0 (1-0 NIC), Washington 1-2 (0-1).