If anyone had 2020 vision and bet the farm on both 2018/2019 Wabash Valley Classic finalists — Terre Haute North and Linton — losing on Day 1 of this year's annual boys high school basketball tournament, congratulations.

Most likely, you would be rich enough to retire before Monday's work shift starts.

Yes, several hours after North's two-point setback to Edgewood in Saturday's noon opener, the Class 2A No. 2-ranked, previously undefeated Miners fell behind hot-shooting Greencastle 9-0 in the first five minutes and ended up on the short end of a dramatic 53-50 decision.

Ironically, the 7-1 Miners will take on North in the pool-play portion of the consolation bracket at 1:30 p.m. Monday in North's gym. More significantly, Greencastle will meet Parke Heritage in the winners' bracket at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Terre Haute South.

Marian University-bound Brody Whitaker, a 6-foot-3 senior, led the Tiger Cubs against Linton by posting team highs of 28 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Plus, he blocked a shot. Whitaker received timely support from Nick Sutherlin, who poured in six of his 13 points in the pivotal fourth quarter.

Linton's top scorers were Indiana State-bound Lincoln Hale with 22 points — he also had seven boards — and reserve Logan Webb with 11 points.

Treys by Whitaker, Sutherlin and Benton Parmley provided Greencastle with that previously mentioned 9-0 advantage. Evan Alexander and Whitaker again closed the first period with trifectas, which boosted the Tiger Cubs' margin to 15-4 heading into the next period.

With the Miners trailing 18-6 after another Whitaker 3, they scored the next seven points on two buckets by Webb and a long-range bomb by Hale to pull within 18-13.

Still behind 22-17 entering the second half, Linton sophomore Joey Hart almost immediately drained a 3 from the top of the arc to cut the deficit to 22-20. But the Miners never did own the lead.

They did tie the score twice in the fourth frame — 38-38 and 40-40 — but a free throw from Whitaker followed by two fielders from Whitaker pumped the advantage back up to 45-40 with 2:06 remaining.

After several basket trades, a Hale trifecta from the top of the arc enabled Linton to climb within 49-48 with 53 ticks left on the clock. But a 10-foot jumper by Parmley and two free throws by Whitaker padded Greencastle's cushion to 53-48.

Here is where the game got strange.

After Whitaker rebounded a Linton miss and started dribbling in front of the Miners' bench, he made a "keep talking" motion with his hand toward those sitting there. That landed him a technical foul with two seconds remaining.

So think about it. Because of the technical, Linton was awarded two free throws — both made by Hale to slice the deficit to 53-50 — and possession of the ball with a chance to tie the score. 

The Miners' first inbound pass from midcourt was tipped out of bounds on the opposite side. They maintained possession, but with only 0.7 showing on the scoreboard. This time, the pass went to young Hart, who clanked a 3-point attempt from the right corner at the buzzer.

Victory: Greencastle.

The Tiger Cubs were appearing in their first Classic since 2006 and so far they're glad they made that choice when an opening arose during the offseason.

"It helps when you hit some shots and we did that at the beginning of the game," Greencastle coach Bryce Rector pointed out. "I was really happy with our ball movement. Linton tried to do several different things defensively and we were able to execute very well against all of it, especially in the first half."

From the Linton perspective, coach Joey Hart — father of the player with the same name — indicated his team seemed on its way to surpassing Greencastle.

"Maybe we ran out of time . . . I don't know," he said. "In my mind, they shot a lot better than us. We got behind and had to chase."

Despite the disappointing defeat, Hart was glad all players entered in the 2020 Classic are getting in their games with the possibility of a COVID-19 spread constantly threatening to screw up any team's schedule.

Coach Hart also said he didn't notice much of a drop in crowd atmosphere Saturday, even though tournament tickets are limited to parents of players and cheerleaders, thus greatly reducing the number of fans in the bleachers.

"When that ball gets throws up," he emphasized, "you want to win."

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General reporter/Sports reporter

David is a longtime Tribune-Star sportswriter whose primary duties were switched to the news department in late 2015. A cancer survivor, he enjoys hanging out with his family and staying fit with regular trips to the gym.

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