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Grant Bachman’s putback at buzzer gives South exciting win over St. John Neumann

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent South Williamsport’s Ben Manning (3) looks for the rebound with St. John Neumann’s David Hill (24) during a high school boys basketball game on Wednesday at St. John Neumann.

As the ball bounced off the rim, Grant Bachman reached high. He caught the ball and a split second later grabbed his ultimate goal.

Redemption.

Bachman missed two late free throws and St. John Neumann took a one-point lead with 11.5 seconds remaining Wednesday at the Catholic Community Center. Bachman never sulked. He just waited for his next opportunity. And when it came his way, Bachman owned it.

Bachman grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a buzzer-beating putback as South Williamsport edged Neumann, 64-63 and recorded one of its biggest wins over the last 11 years in the most dramatic fashion possible. Secoy Roberts scored 23 points, Evan Laudenslager grabbed 19 rebounds and Bachman’s putback pulled South (13-3, 9-1) into a Mid-Penn first-place tie with Neumann, which suffered its first loss.

“I had to knock down those foul shots and they didn’t come, so in my head I was like, ‘We’re going to win it. I know we’re going to win it,'” Bachman said. “I had to come in clutch with the nice shot at the end and that’s what I did.”

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent South Williamsport’s Trent Hampton (13) and Grant Bachman (1) stretch for a rebound around St. John Neumann’s Naz Smith (4) and Nasseer Dymeck (3) during a high school boys basketball game on Wednesday at St. John Neumann.

“Grant missed those foul shots and he was clutch on that rebound, attacking the glass as we did all night long,” South coach Rob Houseknecht said. “He didn’t hang in his head and it was great to see him do that.”

Bachman’s buzzer-beater put an exclamation point on what was one of the season’s most exciting area games. South avenged its only league loss, took a big step toward earning at least a share of its first league title since 2010 and defeated Neumann (12-1, 8-1) for the first time in nine years.

The Knights made South earn that elusive win the hard way, making a stunning comeback and erasing a 12-point deficit in the final four minutes. Davion Hill found Naseer Dymeck for a go-ahead layup which put Neumann up 63-62 and it appeared the Knights might remain undefeated.

Houseknecht trusted his players and did not call a timeout following Dymeck’s basket. Roberts worked himself free and put up a foul-line jumper which was just off the mark. The ball bounced off the back of the rim as Bachman came crashing in from the right wing. Almost as soon as the junior forward corralled the rebound, he put it back up and through the net. A year after not playing, Bachman lived a teenager’s dream and soon was engulfed by jubilant teammates as Neumann players stood in disbelief after making such a valiant comeback.

“Secoy put up a good shot and I saw a St. John Neumann kid didn’t jump up for the ball, so I jumped up and tried to put in before the clock ran out and that’s what I did,” Bachman said. “I was shaking I was so excited.”

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent Neumann's Essex Taylor (15) tries to grab a rebound away from South Williamsport's Secoy Roberts (2) during a high school boys basketball game on Wednesday at St. John Neumann.

A Roberts 3-pointer gave South its biggest lead, 60-48 before David and Davion Hill went off. David Hill scored a game-high 31 points and he and his all-state brother combined for 13 of Neumann’s next 15 points as the Knights came storming back.

Davion Hill’s 3-pointer cut it to 62-58 and David followed with a difficult corner 3-pointer, making it 62-61 with 1:38 remaining. Neumann had a chance to take the lead following Bachman’s first missed free throw, but an offensive foul was called. When Bachman missed the front end of his next 1-and-1, Davion Hill bounced and found a cutting Dymeck who gave Neumann its first lead since late in the third quarter.

South was down, but not out and Bachman (10 points, five rebounds, three assists) delivered the knockout blow in a game featuring enough back and forth haymakers to make Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed applaud.

“We did it together. It wasn’t one person. Everybody stepped up,” Roberts said. “That was a ridiculous win.”

“It was fun. It wasn’t beautiful but at the same time some kids made some plays. Much respect to South,” Neumann coach Jamie Spencer said. “We had a couple bounces not go our way but give South all the credit because they did what they needed to do to win the game. Much respect to them.”

RALPH WILSON/Sun-Gazette Correspondent South Williamsport’s Secoy Roberts (2) grabs a rebound and looks for an exit around St. John Neumann’s Keon Burkholder (12) during a high school boys basketball game on Wednesday at St. John’s.

David Hill scored 21 second-half points and finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals despite being held scoreless until the 3:38-mark of the second quarter. He also made 5 of 7 fourth-quarter shots. Davion added seven rebounds and five steals, along with his 18 points. Keon Burkholder pulled down six rebounds and Dymeck (six points, three assists) was outstanding off the bench.

All those Knights played prominent roles as Neumann turned an 11-point third-quarter deficit into a 44-41 lead. Neumann used a 9-0 run to take that lead, but South did not flinch. Roberts grew up in Brooklyn and has played in countless games like this one before. And when his team needed him most, the senior point guard played some of his best basketball in what has been a super senior season.

Roberts scored the third-quarter’s final seven points as South regained the lead. He then scored nine quick fourth-quarter points and his second 3-pointer put the Mounties up 12 midway through that final quarter. Roberts stuffed the stat sheet, adding 9 rebounds and 4 assists and he had a hand in 17 of 19 South points during that 19-4 run.

“This was an important game for me, this was an important game for everyone here,” Roberts said. “The first quarter didn’t go great, so I had to find a way to step up and bring the team a ‘W’ and that’s what we did together.”

“The first half, Secoy was struggling a little bit, trying to force things. Once we start playing team basketball and spreading the ball around it makes it easier for him to get his shots up,” Houseknecht said. “Kudos to him for coming up clutch down the stretch. That was really big.”

Laudenslager continued his rebounding rampage and helped South take a 33-24 halftime lead. Despite not being 6-feet, the senior forward has become one of the area’s best rebounders and had 12 of his 19 in the first half, helping South feast on the offensive glass.

Laudenslager had a double-double early in the third quarter and South played strong first-quarter defense when it allowed just six points and took a lead it held until late in the third. Trent Hampton and Ben Manning played vital roles in earning that first-half lead and Lee Habalar provided a spark off the bench, hitting a key fourth-quarter 3-pointer and dealing three assists.

South knew if it was going to break through against Neumann it must be together. It was the only way it could record its signature win thus far in the 2021 season. And together, the Mounties produced a game and ending they likely will never forget.

“It was major,” Bachman said. “Coach said it’s the first time they’ve lost here in a long time and for us to beat them here on their home court it’s big. It feels good.”

SOUTH (64)

Secoy Roberts 9 3-5 23, Evan Laudenslager 7 1-4 15, Grant Bachman 5 0-4 10, Landon Sanford 0 0-0 0, Trent Hampton 2 0-0 5, Ben Manning 3 0-0 6, Lee Habalar 2 0-0 5, Alex Neidig 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 4-13 64.

NEUMANN (63)

David Hill 14 0-0 31, Davion Hill 8 1-3 18, Keon Burkholder 3 0-2 6, Naz Smith 0 0-0 0, Naseer Dymeck 3 0-0 6, JerVal Weeks-Shuler 1 0-0 2, Ryan McNamee 0 0-0 0, Essex Taylor 0 0-0 0. Totals 29 1-5 63.

South 12 21 15 16–64

Neumann 6 18 20 19–63

3-point goals: South 4 (Roberts 2, Hampton 1, Habalar 1), Neumann 4 (David Hill 3, Davion Hill 1).

JV score: Neumann, 49-43.

Records: South (13-3, 9-1 Mid-Penn), Neumann (12-1, 8-1).

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