Williams scores all 11 in OT as Paris breaks NC’s heart

Williams scores all 11 in OT as Paris breaks NC’s heart

By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Sun
Combined With Other Sources

It’s still there for Navarro’s Bulldogs, the road to the postseason and a chance to win the Region XIV Tournament next month.

It just seems like that road is wrought with pain and full of too many nights like Wednesday when the Dawgs lost another heartbreaker — ironically what could be their most heart-breaking loss of the year — on Valentine’s Day.

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Keion Epps blocks a shot (Keith Speer Photo)

It seemed they had this one, had it so many times in so many ways, but in the end it was Paris that somehow managed to steal this tense, up-and-down game that neither team could get a grasp on with a 75-73 overtime victory at the Wolens SEC.

Darius Williams, who scored all of Paris’ 11 points in overtime, dropped in two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to give the Dragons the victory. Had he missed the bus or stayed in Paris for a Valentine’s date, Navarro would have rolled to an easy win.

But this game was full of woulda-coulda-shouldas for the Dawgs, who would have walked away with a victory in regulation if they had just made a few more free throws. They missed 15, making only 13 of 28 for the night and went 3 for 6 in overtime when every point was precious.

The Dawgs, who found a way to send the game to OT when Trey Pulliam hit a 10-footer with 12 seconds left in regulation and Paris’ Reggie Tharp missed a shot at the buzzer that sent the teams to overtime at 64-64, couldn’t match that ending.

They had a beautiful chance to win the game with a final shot in OT when they took over the ball with 22 seconds left and no shot clock, but instead of winding down the clock for one last shot with a worst case scenario of facing a second overtime, Navarro’s Odessey Keeling drove to the basket with plenty of time left, missing his shot with 12 seconds left.

That gave Paris just enough time to push the ball up the court and create a shot. Williams drove to the basket and was fouled. He made both shots. He has now made 96 of 110 free throws (87 percent) this year after going 8 for 8 Wednesday. Paris made 20 of 27.

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Dondre Griffin stops his drive. He hit 4 threes.

Williams finished with five 3s and 29 points and saved the game for the Dragons when he refused to let Navarro pull away in OT. The Dawgs were tenacious on defense and held Paris scoreless for almost three minutes to start the extra period, and built a 68-64 lead, but Williams hit the first of three overtime 3-pointers with 2:25 left to keep it close.

The Dawgs went up 71-67 on an Emmanuel Egbuta dunk and a Keion Epps free throw with 1:33 left, but Williams busted another trey with 58 seconds left to make it   71-70.

Egbuta, who scored all of his 12 points after halftime, including five in OT, hit an inside turn-around shot to stretch the lead back to three at 73-70 with 33 seconds left, but Williams raced down court and burned a long 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining.

Dondre Griffin, who made three long treys in a row early and four for the night, led the Dawgs with 18 points. Pulliam scored 14 and Epps, who was coming off a big game (19 points, 12 rebounds) against Panola on Saturday, had a 13 double-double, scoring 13 with 13 boards. Egbuta finished with a dozen points, nine rebounds and seven blocked shots.

Neither team could ever take over. The biggest lead of the night was when Griffin had his barrage of 3s that gave Navarro a 20-10 edge with 11:16 left in the half.

But the Bulldogs led by only 37-34 at halftime and after Paris caught the Dawgs at 49-49 with 12:01 left, neither team led by more than four points the rest of the night.

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Odessey Keeling works past PJC’s Darius Williams.

Paris (22-4 and 11-4 in conference) needed the win after dropping two in a row and falling from second to third in the North Zone, but Navarro needed it more. The Dawgs are still in good shape to make it to the Region XIV Tournament, which takes the top two teams from the North and South Zones, and the next eight teams.

The Bulldogs (16-9) are now 7-8 and tied with Bossier Parish for fifth in the North, but they have a better record than just about everybody in seven-team South.

Still, they have lost five of their last six games, including two bitter losses in overtime and a last-second 78-76 loss to nationally-ranked Tyler, and with four games left they would like to turn that trend around and build some momentum going into the playoffs.

Elsewhere in Region XIV play Wednesday:

LAMAR STATE-PORT ARTHUR 83, ANGELINA 77  —  Rodney Brown scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked 10 shots as the Seahawks defeated Angelina at the Carl Parker Center.  Brown was 6-of-10 from the floor and hit all six of his free throws. Lamar State hit 32-of-45 foul shots and handed the Roadrunners their third consecutive loss.  Tevin Baker came off the bench with 15 points that included 3-of-4 shooting beyond the arc.  Alex Williams added 13 points for Lamar State.

TYLER 72, KILGORE 62 — Tyler’s 12-1 finish during the final 4:26 provided the difference for the Apaches in the matchup against rival Kilgore at Wagstaff Gym.  KC led most of the game until Micah Thomas (6-7 freshman wing) hit two free throws for a 52-61 TJC lead with 4:01 on the clock.  The Apaches added six more points, three coming from Brian Warren, who sank a technical foul shot and later tossed into two more free throws after he was fouled.  Desmond Balentine drove for two points after a KC turnover and pushed the lead to 67-61.  Warren poured in 25 points and Balentine added 22.  Kilgore, which lost three players via fouls, got a team-high 15 points from Chad Bowie.

SAN JACINTO 76, LEE 67 — San Jacinto broke on a 12-5 finish over the final 6:34 to put down Lee.  The Running Rebels shot only 34.8% from the floor, but got 10 three-pointers in their final game at Anders Gymnasium.  J’Von McCormick led Lee scorers with 15 and Shawn Montague had a double-double.  The Rebels led 39-35 at halftime.