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Red Level falls to Greenville by a close 3 points

Despite trailing by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Red Level Tigers came back to make a game of it, before eventually falling to Class 5A Greenville, 79-76, in Red Level Friday night.

Red Level had an opportunity to get even closer with 1.2 seconds left, but missed two free throws and had to force a desperation 3-pointer that bounced off the top of the backboard.

In addition to the loss on the scoreboard, Red Level (5-2) may have lost a key player for several games. With 6:31 left in the fourth quarter, Kyle Nolen was involved in a collision under the basket and fell hard to the floor. Nolen remained conscious, but could not move, and was eventually helped off on a stretcher.

“You hate for that to happen to any kid,” Red Level coach Fred Kelley said. “Kyle’s such a hard worker and he was coming off a great game against Brantley. We’re just going to give him the time he needs to get well and hopefully he can be back with us soon.”

D.J. Sankey finished with a game-high 38 points for Red Level, and also picked up 10 rebounds, seven steals and six assists. He was 6-for-12 from 3-point range; as a team, Red Level shot 11-of-27 from behind the arc.

Greenville (3-0) used its athleticism to its advantage throughout the game, but also turned the ball over several times, leading to easy baskets for Red Level. Red Level trailed 39-36 at halftime and 61-52 heading into the final quarter.

Red Level trailed 76-66 with about 2:00 left in the game before starting its comeback. Sankey dunked the ball with 1:39 left and followed it up with a three-pointer 30 seconds later to bring Red Level within 76-71. Sankey added another three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left that cut Greenville’s lead to 79-76.

“Everyone stepped up and played their role tonight,” Kelley said. “We had a chance to win it on the line and a shot that could have tied it, but they just didn’t go in. Greenville is a good team and we’re thankful to play a good team like this and hopefully we can learn from it.”

Jacques Burnett and Brentley Hill each scored 20 points for Greenville. Marquis Claybourne added 18 and also provided some levity when he scored a basket in the wrong goal, during the same play where Nolen was injured.

Cale Nolen pitched in 13 points for Red Level and Luke Sharp added 12.

In the girls game, Greenville came away with a 49-31 win. Koneshia Calloway led Red Level with 12 points and Starla Jones added seven.