For Rural Retreat High School coach John Phillips it was a quality win.
For Rural Retreat senior Travis Foster it was a sweet form of vindication.
The third-seeded Indians avenged two regular-season losses to Chilhowie by collecting a 48-46 victory over the Warriors on Thursday night in the semifinals of the Hogoheegee District boys basketball tournament at Northwood High School.
Along with the losses to Chilhowie earlier in the winter – by scores of 61-46 and 74-47 — Rural Retreat’s football season was ended with a shocking playoff loss to the Warriors back in November.
Foster, a star wide receiver on the gridiron for the Indians, helped return the favor as Chilhowie’s regional tournament hoops aspirations were dashed.
Football players Foster, Lukas Langston, Tyler Holliday and Jay Linkous fittingly made some clutch plays for Rural Retreat in the second half.
“It was a heartbreaker in football,” Foster said. “They’re a heck of a basketball team. They beat us twice, they play good defense and they are always tough. They’re a heck of a bunch.”
Rural Retreat proved to not be so shabby either.
Tied at 20 at the break, the Indians scored the first six points of the second half to gain a lead that they held the rest of the way.
“Coach always tells us the first four minutes set [the tone] for the half,” Foster said. “We just played like we should.”
Rural Retreat was 6-of-10 from the foul line in the final 55.5 seconds. Chilhowie actually had a chance to win it, but Reid Sturgill’s desperation 3-pointer clanked off the rim as time expired.
How long did those final moments drag on for Phillips?
“Two lifetimes,” Phillips said. “I’m already old. I didn’t need that.”
Sam Hadaway, the district’s leading scorer, fired in 20 points, while Foster (11 points) also scored in double figures for Rural Retreat.
“Chilhowie plays us so hard and we have such a difficult time matching up with those kids,” Phillips said. “It just seemed tonight the rebounds, when they came off, came off on our side. We made a couple of critical shots in the third quarter that got us the lead.”
Jonathan Hayden scored 16 points for Chilhowie (11-12), which was plagued by poor shooting and untimely turnovers.
Foster’s final football meeting with Chilhowie ended with him shedding some tears. On Thursday, he and his teammates were all smiles.
“That bunch in there, I’m just glad for ’em,” Phillips said. “That meant a lot to them individually and as a team. They really worked hard these last couple of weeks and it sort of paid off.”
Rural Retreat 48, Chilhowie 46
SALTVILLE - Sam Hadaway scored 21 points to lead the Indians over the Warriors. Travis Foster tacked on 11.
Johnathan Hayden led Chilhowie with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
RURAL RETREAT (11-11)
Hadaway 21, Foster 11, Langston 6, Holliday 4, Linkous 4, Crigger 2, Holman 1.
J. Hayden 16, Sturgill 9, Thomas 9, C. Hayden 5, Robertson 4, McKinney 3.
Rural Retreat 11 9 16 12-48
Chilhowie 8 12 10 16-46
3-point-goals - Chilhowie 2 (Sturgill, Thomas).