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By GOOSE LINDSAY
Somebody forgot to tell J.T. Hicks’ Oliver Springs Bobcats that the game was over.
Trailing by 11 with three minutes to play in Thursday’s East Tennessee Sectional Tournament opener at Fairview, it was almost time to empty the bench and call it a season. But instead of throwing in the towel, the Bobcats put together a furious rally to force overtime. Then in overtime, Bobcat leader Garrett Miller hit two free throws with 10 seconds remaining to give Oliver Springs a thrilling 60-59 victory over the Rebels.
Playing on the road didn’t seem to bother the Bobcats in the early going as Oliver Springs led 12-9 after six minutes of play.
Miller had a big opening quarter for Oliver Springs with six points while Logan Crisp, Cory McBee and Jordan Romero also scored in the opening period.
Oliver Springs scored even more in the second period (13 points), but it was their defense that couldn’t hold up as the Rebels exploded for 20 points in the period to give the home team a 29-25 lead at intermission.
Five Bobcats scored in the period with Miller’s four points leading the way.
By the end of the third quarter things were looking bleak for the visitors as Fairview won the period 14-8 to take a 43-33 lead into the final period of play.
Fairview’s lead grew to 11 points midway through the final period, but then the Bobcats got down to business. Crisp buried a pair of three-pointers down the stretch and McBee added nine points in the frame as Oliver Springs pulled even at 52 at the end of regulation.
The overtime period was close throughout, but Miller would be the hero with his late free throws that gave the Bobcats the victory.
McBee led Oliver Springs on the night with 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Miller was next in line with 16 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists while Romero (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Crisp (11 points) also scored in double figures for the Bobcats.
Oliver Springs now moves on to Pigeon Forge and a match-up with Area 3 champion Boyds Creek in the quarterfinal round of the tournament. That game was played on Saturday and a victory against Boyds Creek would put Oliver Springs in Friday’s semifinals.
Oliver Springs (60) Miller 16, McBee 17, Romero 12, Crisp 11, Efferson 2, Coker 2.