Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SPORTS >>Searcy loses in double OT to Batesville

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

The Lions came close to avenging their only loss of the early season Monday night while hosting the opening round of the Searcy Bank Classic, but a free throw by Batesville’s Thomas Showalter with five seconds left to play in the second overtime broke a 52-52 tie, and secured the win for the Pioneers in a physical and spirited game that was close from the opening tip on.

Batesville senior Brandon Owens had a chance to end things for the Pioneers during regulation, but his reverse layup attempt that had been solid on two other drives fell short, forcing extra quarters. The regulation-ending trip by Batesville was set up by a 35-foot three-point attempt by Lions senior guard Brandon Coleman that hit nothing, including net, with 28 seconds remaining. A successful three pointer by Detrick Nelson with nine seconds left in the first overtime brought the Lions back from a 50-47 deficit to set up the second OT.

The second overtime went scoreless until the 1:12 mark, when Zack Harrison drove in the paint for two to give Batesville a 52-50 lead. Nelson answered right back for Searcy with a basket to tie, setting up another last-second duel for the win.

Searcy’s chance to steal the win came on the ensuing Pioneers’ possession. Senior guard Logan English picked a Batesville pass and got it out to Nelson, but his shot off the glass wouldn’t fall. Showalter pulled down the board for Batesville, and drew a foul from Nelson to set up the game-winning trip to the stripe.

The Lions took the early lead in the first quarter off three straight goals in the final 3:15 seconds, including a three pointer by English that gave Searcy what would turn out to be the largest lead of the night by either team at 13-6. Batesville answered in the final 32 seconds with a backdoor shot by Harrison, followed by an inside jumper by Showalter to send the Pioneers into the second quarter trailing by two at 13-11.

The equality of the two squads really began to show itself in the second quarter. Two straight baskets by Erick Oyemaja to start out the frame put the Pioneers on top for the first time all night at 15-13, but a free throw by Aaron Coleman cut the already narrow lead in half for the Lions at the 5:39 mark.

A put-back by Jordan Evans also drew a foul, and Evans swished the free throw to put the Lions back into the lead at 17-15. Evans repeated the same shot moments later to give Searcy a 19-15 lead before a three pointer from Eric Watson cut the deficit back to one for Batesville.

The officials acknowledged the extreme physicality on the next Searcy possession when they called a double foul on Searcy’s Nathan Williams and Batesville’s Showalter. Williams scored on a reverse lay up at the 2:26 mark to tie the score at 22-22, but the contact exchanged by the two on the way to the basket was not to the officials liking, and the foul totals for both teams increased simultaneously.

The Pioneers hit the final two baskets of the half to take a 29-26 lead at halftime, but the combined efforts of Evans and Williams in the third quarter put the Lions back out front 36-35 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation. Searcy led most of the fourth quarter, but a lay up by Owens at the 1:01 mark tied the game at 45-45 before Aaron Coleman’s hasty shot sent the game into overtime.

Evans led the Lions with 16 points while Larry Kilpatrick, Nathan Williams, English and Nelson all finished with seven points each. For Batesville, Harrison led with 16 points, while Ashton Sledge added 12 points, and Showalter finished with nine points, seven of which came from the free throw line. The Lions fell to 2-2 with the loss, with both losses coming at the hands of Batesville. The Pioneers stayed perfect with a 3-0 record, and advanced to the semifinal round where they will face Hot Springs Thursday night. The Lions moved to the consolation bracket with the loss, and will play Lonoke Thursday afternoon.