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It was Taylor Murray or Justin Nation.
That’s about all that is known about a buzzer-beating tip-in that gave the Oliver Springs Bobcats a thrilling 54-53 victory over Wartburg Monday night in a key District 4-A contest for both teams.
Oliver Springs was trailing 53-52 when Wartburg missed a pair of free throws with 4.5 seconds left. The Bobcats got the rebound then Collin Moss missed a shot from half-court, but the rebound came off in a trio of bodies, including Nation and Murray. Both appeared to bat the ball into the air and somehow into the bottom of the basket as the Bobcats celebrated one of the wildest finishes ever at Terry L. Hacker Gymnasium.
“We just call it a team win,” Murray said of the fantastic finish. “We’re not sure who got it. His hand was on it and my hand was on it. I’m just glad it went in.”
“We just both tipped it up there,” Nation added. “We knew there wasn’t much time and we were both just trying to get it up there and hope it would go in. Thank God it did.”
Monday’s win was almost a must for the Bobcats as far as the District 4-A race is concerned. Oliver Springs entered Monday’s contest with a 1-2 record with both losses coming at home.
“The district is wide open this year,” Bobcat head coach Tony Ingram said. “You’ve got to win as many as you can, especially at home. We’ve let a couple of games slip away at home and now we’re going to have to make up for it on the road.”
Monday’s game was close throughout, although the Bobcats did jump out to a double digit lead in the first half. Oliver Springs led 15-8 after one period of play and they scored the first four points of the second quarter to take a 19-8 lead.
Wartburg, however, answered with a 12-2 run to pull within 21-10. The Bulldogs eventually pulled even at 25 before Moss drilled a deep three-pointer at the end of the first half to give the Bobcats a 28-25 lead at intermission.
Wartburg’s Thomas Carroll led all scorers in the first half with 10 points while Nation scored six for the Bobcats.
The third period featured two runs. The Bulldogs opened the half with 7-2 run to take a 32-30 lead, but Oliver Springs got six straight points from Shelby Morgan in a period-ending 10-3 run that gave the Bobcats a 40-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Things stayed close in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs took a 48-46 lead with 4:17 to play when Adam Kilby put back a miss. Kilby put back another miss with 3:24 left that made the score 53-49.
Oliver Springs made it 53-52 when Murray scored on a rebound with 2:32 left to play, but then neither team could buy a basket.
Oliver Springs missed a three-pointer with 9.7 seconds left and the game seemed over when the Bobcats were forced to foul and then committed a technical foul.
Wartburg, however, missed three free throws with 9.7 seconds left and two more with 4.5 seconds left to leave the door open for Oliver Springs’ fantastic finish.
“We kept stressing to our guys to worry about the next play,” Ingram said. “We had a lot of bad things happen those last two minutes, but we kept fighting and when you do that good things happen. We definitely got a good bounce there at the end.”
For the record, Murray was credited with the basket in the official score book.
Morgan (16 points, 12 rebounds) and Murray (11 points, 5 rebounds) scored in double figures for Oliver Springs with Nation (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Moss (9 points, 5 rebounds) coming close.
Carroll (18 points, 7 steals), Kilby (12 points, 7 rebounds) and Justes (12 points, 5 assists) led the way for Wartburg in defeat.
Wartburg (53) Kilby 12, Adkisson 3, Hawn 2, Jones 4, Justes 12, Carroll 18, Beasley 2.
Oliver Springs (54) Murray 11, Noe 2, Nation 9, B. Morgan 5, S. Morgan 16, Miller 2, Moss 9.
There wasn’t nearly the drama in the first game of the evening as Oliver Springs grabbed a double digit lead early and was never seriously threatened in picking up a 59-43 victory.
Wartburg did hold an early 2-1 lead, but Oliver Springs ended the first quarter on a 13-2 run to take a 14-4 lead into the second period of play.
Courtney Jones had a big first period for the Lady ’Cats, scoring seven points.
Oliver Springs’ lead grew to 27-13 midway through the second period before Wartburg’s Olivia Hamby hit a pair of three-pointers in a 9-2 run that pulled the Lady Bulldogs to within seven points at 29-22.
Wartburg, however, would get no closer. Oliver Springs closed the period with a 7-1 run to take a 34-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Emily Griffith had a big second quarter for Oliver Springs with 10 points. Hamby (8 points) and Kristie Phillips (7 points) did most of the damage for Wartburg.
Not much changed in the third period. The Lady ’Cats’ lead grew to 16 points at 44-28 before Wartburg scored the final five points of the frame to make the score 44-33 with eight minutes to play.
Those final eight minutes were dominated by Oliver Springs. The Lady ’Cats opened the frame on a 9-0 run and led by as many as 23 points before settling for the 16-point victory.
Emily Griffith led Oliver Springs on the night with 20 points and five assists. Courtney Jones was next in line with 12 points and six rebounds.
Phillips (13 points, 6 steals, 5 rebounds) had a solid showing for Wartburg.
Wartburg (43) Phillips 13, Barnett 8, Melton 5, Hamby 11, Hurtt 3, Kidd 3.
Oliver Springs (59) E. Griffith 20, R. Griffith 8, Jones 12, Gilmore 2, Smith 5, Suttles 1, Topmiller 6, Channell 5.