Host Southport, playing without leading scorer AJ Dancler, survived a late-game comeback Jan. 18 by Beech Grove for a shaky 59-57 win at historic Southport Fieldhouse.
The Cardinals somehow overcame 25 turnovers and a harrowing final 37 seconds after sophomore Michael Johnson hit two free throws for a 58-52 lead.
BG’s Jeremiah Alexander responded with a basket and free throw with 31 seconds left. Teammate Adrian Holland stole the ball on a Cardinal pass near the Hornets basket and made a layup with 27 seconds to go. Southport’s Jeff Pinkston was fouled with 20.5 seconds on the clock and hit one of two free throws for the final 59-57 count.
The Hornets worked the clock down to 2.5 seconds when Jeremiah Tate missed a game-tying shot.
Beech Grove had trailed twice by 13 points (34-21 and 36-23) in the third quarter and came back to trail twice by one point (46-45 and 58-57) in a frantic fourth quarter.
Coach Joe Rihm’s Hornets committed only nine turnovers, but were plagued by poor free throw shooting (17 of 29) and only 31.5 percent (17 of 54) from the field.
Beech Grove (7-5) never led, but came within seconds of upsetting the Cardinals, now 11-5 after dominating Terre Haute North, 57-36 Saturday.
Southport’s Keyon Miller had a game-high 21 points, including 10 points in the fourth quarter, against Beech Grove. Teammate 6-6 Nickens Lemba added 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds but fouled out with 2:51 left in the game.
Alexander led the Hornets with 17 points with Cam Brown and Jaleel Edwards, each scoring 10 points.
Unbelievably, the last time the Cardinals defeated Beech Grove in the fieldhouse was in 1969. Southport leads the series 28-11 though.
In more Southside thrillers last weekend: Center Grove edged visiting Roncalli 50-49; Decatur Central upended host Greenwood in overtime, 44-42; and Franklin downed host Whiteland in overtime, 55-53.
(Note: Sports historian Jim Pich contributed to this article.)