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Fans were on the edge of their seats Friday night until the final buzzer sounded. Unfortunately for the home crowd, turnovers and lack of execution down the stretch by the Panthers sealed the win for the visiting Demons of Williamstown, 51-48 in double overtime.
Carroll County (5-18) turned the ball over four times in the final overtime, but still had an opportunity in the waning seconds to send the game into a third OT after Williamstown (3-20) turned the ball over twice and missed the front end of three one-and-one free throw attempts. Coming off of a missed Williamstown free throw with under 10 seconds to go, sophomore Dallas Gibson missed a 3-pointer in the right corner. The Panthers got the offensive board, and sophomore Brandon Stewart put up one last 3-point attempt right before the buzzer, but it bounced off the rim.
“The big thing as far as the final outcome is we got really careless with the ball right there in the second overtime,” head coach Carroll Yager said. “… Looking back, I probably would have called timeout on that last play. I thought we could come down without a timeout and get a good shot, and that’s one of those things that if it worked you would have felt good about, but if it didn’t, hindsight is 20/20.”
The Panthers opened the game with an early 7-3 lead, but fell behind 26-18 by halftime after missing a number of seemingly easy baskets around the goal.
Carroll outscored Williamstown 14-8 in the third behind a seven-point output by Gibson for the quarter to pull within two points, 34-32. Seven quick points off of jumpers by senior Ethan Stewart put the Panthers up 39-35 with about four minutes remaining. The two teams traded baskets until the game was tied 45-45.
Williamstown took a timeout with 11.8 seconds remaining. On the following play, senior Tyler Grant stole the ball from the Demons and passed it to Gibson streaking up the floor. Gibson missed a layup, but Grant followed it up with an attempted tap-in that rimmed off as the buzzer sounded, sending the game into the first overtime.
In the first overtime, both teams milked the clock until the final seconds. Williamstown’s (#5) hit a floater in the lane with 4.5 seconds remaining. Carroll County took a timeout and set up an inbounds play. Junior John Perry took the ball out of bounds and passed it to sophomore Trey Boles at half court. He swung the ball to Ethan Stewart, who drove down the left side of the court and took a shot that hit off the glass and rolled in with no time remaining, sending the game into the second overtime period.
Carroll shot just 14 of 33 from two-point range and four of 18 from three-point range. Williamstown hit only seven of 20 two-pointers, but sank nine of 21 3-pointers.
Overall, Yager said he thought his team executed their game plan of playing solid man-to-man defense. “Some of the looks on the threes were where we closed down on a driver and they kicked,” he said. “They did a good job of knocking shots down, but we kept from them maybe shooting a layup.”
However, Yager was disappointed in his team’s inability to get to the free throw line. “We didn’t take it at them enough,” he said. “We only shot 12 free throws, and we played 40 minutes.” Carroll was eight for 12 from the charity stripe while Williamstown was 10 for 20.
Coming down the stretch, Yager said tiredness probably contributed to his team’s turnovers because the same guys had been playing most of the game. “We had 15 in 40 minutes, and unfortunately four in that final overtime.”
Yager told his players this game was a series of three opportunities to learn, and he hoped they would learn from this experience.
“When you’re coaching, the one thing that you always want to do is to have great effort, and I thought our effort was great,” he said. “No question I wish we would have come away with a ‘W.’ It would have been good to do that, but we’re learning in close games.”
Wise benched following technical foul
Senior Zach Wise committed a technical foul with 2:42 to go in the first quarter after complaining about a no-call by the referee. Yager said he made a disciplinary decision not to re-enter him into the game, and as of Friday night, he had not decided whether or not Wise would play in the Panthers’ next game Tuesday. Carroll County took on South Oldham (16-6) at home. Results were unavailable at press time.