BROOKVILLE — Southwestern Buckeye League rivals Dixie and Brookville are separated by nine miles. Their basketball grudge match hit closer to home for Dixie senior guard Jared Moore. He’s first cousins with Brookville junior Brad Peters.
“It’s friendly, just (no talking) before the game,” Moore said with a smile following Dixie’s 66-62 win at Brookville on Friday. “I’ll see at him for Christmas (on Saturday). Good sportsmanship in the family, we try to keep it that way.”
Moore said he and Peters don’t personally exchange gifts. But the duo and their teammates gave spectators a treat in a comeback win typical of the Greyhounds this season. In six wins this season, Dixie has trailed in the fourth quarter in four of them. Is it time to start throwing out nicknames for the unheralded ‘Heart Attack Hounds’ or ‘Cardiac Canines?’
“We’re on a pretty big high,” said Moore, who scored 25 points to share game-high honors with teammate Ethan Blankenship. “But now we know the target is on us so everybody is going to come after us. We have to keep playing hard.”
And not just in the fourth quarter. Brookville scored the first 10 points on baskets from five different players. The Blue Devils (4-2) led by as many as 14 in the first quarter, 18-4. Dixie (6-0) pulled within 19-15 midway through the second quarter, but Brookville restored the lead to double digits at the half, 28-18.
“Like (assistant) coach (Bill) Peters told them, that was the worst half we could possibly play but we were only down 10 points,” said Dixie coach Joe Miller, who also shared a family connection with the game. Greyhound coaches Miller and Peters are uncles to players Moore and Brad Peters. “This is huge because we’re neighbors. It’s a big game for the kids.”
The crossover game didn’t count in the SWBL standings — Dixie leads the Buckeye Division and Brookville is tied for second in the Southwestern Division — but it carried the same intensity. The Blue Devils’ up-temp offense controlled the first half and briefly into the second. But it slowed when the half-court Greyhounds started hitting a few more baskets, slowing the pace.
Dixie, which trailed by as many as nine point in the third quarter, tied the game three times in the fourth quarter. The Greyhounds took their first lead with 1:01 left on Blankenship’s foul and ensuing free throw, making it 57-55. Brookville never trailed by more than four over the final minute and three times cut the lead to a point.
“The hometown rivalry burns a little bit inside, but ultimately the big picture is it wasn’t a conference loss,” Davidson said of highlighting the positives.
The Greyhounds, who hit 67 percent from the free-throw line as a team, scored their final nine points from there. They hit 12-of-15 free throws in the fourth quarter and 21-of-27 overall.
“If I can get the lead with three minutes to go, I’m going to win the ball game,” Miller said. “We shoot foul shots very well.”
Brookville’s Peters led the Blue Devils with 20 points and Brannon Dunn added 11.
“My kids are resilient,” said Brookville coach Jeff Davidson. “They’re hurting right now, but give credit to Dixie. They’re 6-0 for a reason. We just have to come back, learn from this and prepare for the next game.”
Same goes for Dixie. The Greyhounds have a week to figure out how to start faster. They trailed 18-7 after the first quarter on Friday. Two games ago, Dixie was down 22-3 to end the first quarter in a 67-62 win over Twin Valley South.
“We always come out flat,” Moore said. “We feel like we’re ready to play, but I we get out on the floor and panic or something. … It gives us the kick in the butt we need to start playing. I think we get nervous, but we know we can come back as long as we play our game.”
Dixie hasn’t won a league title since 1986. With wins already over the second and third place teams in their division, could this be the year the Greyhounds race to the title?
“I knew we’d be competitive, but I didn’t know how good a chance we’d have to go 6-0,” Moore said. “After the (TV) South game, it seemed like if we played with heart we could do anything.”
Added Miller: “This is huge for us, It’s great for the Hounds to get some recognition. We haven’t had any in a long time. But tonight was a total team effort.”