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Cougars win late-night, 5-OT affair

Cougars win late-night, 5-OT affair
Cougars win late-night, 5-OT affair
North Harrison's T.J. Sanders dishes a pass in the first overtime against West Washington. Sanders finished the game with 10 points. (Photo by Brian Smith)

It took 52 minutes of basketball before North Harrison pulled away in the fifth overtime Friday night to put away West Washington, 76-69, in boys’ basketball.
With tired legs, a few starters who exhausted their foul limits seated on the bench, North Harrison utilized a quick Devin Southard layup and near-perfect free throws in the fifth extra session to pick up its third win of the season.
‘The adrenaline was rushing; I wasn’t worried about it,’ North Harrison senior Cody Johnson said of the wear and tear of the lengthy game. ‘I just wanted to get that third win. Too bad we have to get all our wins at home and in overtime.’
Johnson led North Harrison with 19 points and dished seven assists along with playing all but a handful of minutes in the game. He sat for a brief minute in the first half, but wasn’t relieved until there was 0.8 second on the clock in the fifth overtime.
‘We were looking the other day and he’s actually, over the past four or five games, averaging more minutes than there are in a game,’ North Harrison coach Chris Martin said. ‘I thought that if I could find him a minute here or there, but once we got into the fourth quarter, we weren’t buying minutes from anybody.’
Johnson logged plenty of minutes, but the maturity of the younger Cougars showed their worth, including Southard. In the final overtime, North Harrison buried all six of its free-throw attempts in the final minute to stretch the lead, something they struggled to do in the previous extra sessions.
‘The young guys really stepped up ‘ Devin Southard, Chad Eveslage and T.J. (Sanders) hit a couple big shots,’ Johnson said. ‘I don’t feel like we’re a three-win team because every time we win, it feels like it is our 10th win.’
The path to each overtime had its share of drama. At the end of regulation, North Harrison let a four-point lead slip away in the final two minutes. A 7-0 West Washington run erased the lead and any Cougar momentum. The final point of the run came on a Chase Thompson free throw after North Harrison’s Jim Bob Schuler fouled out. Yet with 35 second left, Jordan Byrne kicked out a pass to an open Sanders who drilled a three to tie the game. Each team had a shot for the win, but both shots were missed.
‘I haven’t hit a shot in forever, then when I finally hit one, it really means something,’ Sanders said.
In the second overtime, Thompson opened with a West Washington trey, forcing North Harrison to play catch-up. West Washington maintained a three-point advantage when Thompson put in a offensive put-back making it 49-46 with 1:26 on the clock. In response, Johnson came up with a big shot of his own, drilling a 3-pointer from the right side. North Harrison had two opportunities to win in the closing minute but couldn’t do it.
The second overtime was less dramatic. Both teams managed just two points, with North Harrison’s coming early on a Byrne bucket and West Washington’s coming on a pair of free throws with a minute left. Byrne did foul out for the Cougars in the second overtime, leaving North Harrison short two starters.
There was hard luck for the Cougars in the third overtime. Sanders opened with a trey to spark the homecoming crowd once again. Following the three, Ethan Trueblood banked a 3-pointer off the glass, dashing the hopes of the home team pulling away. Johnson buried another trey for North Harrison, pushing the lead back to 57-54. The teams swapped a series of free throws until North Harrison managed a 60-58 lead with 11.5 seconds left. Yet West Washington didn’t give in. Martin Chastain drove the length of the floor, then put in a running floater, forcing a fourth overtime.
‘You have to give West Washington credit as well,’ Martin said. ‘They could have folded the tent after each overtime, but they just kept coming back and coming back.’
In the fourth overtime, Geswein gave North Harrison an early edge once again, with a 3-pointer after West Washington made a free throw. The Senators then converted two baskets to forge ahead 65-63. Johnson answered for the Cougars, making a pair of free throw with 1:07 to play. Both teams again had opportunities to win but couldn’t get it done.
In the fifth overtime, North Harrison (3-12) finally prevailed. It was the third win on the season for the Cougars, all of which came at home and involved at least one overtime. Friday, it took a complete team effort to pull it out, even though it took a school-record five overtimes. North Harrison committed just 12 turnovers in the 52 minutes.
‘You can look at T.J. (Sanders’ performance), but you have to credit guys like Devin Southard, there is a young kid there who started the fifth overtime,’ Martin added. ‘And guys like David Geswein who stepped up with a huge three. There are other guys who did several things.’
Schuler, who was crowned the homecoming king prior to the game, finished with 13 points before fouling out. Byrne and Sanders also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
‘Honestly, in the huddle, our legs were tired, but when we went back on the court, we stepped our game up,’ Johnson said. ‘We wanted this win bad, homecoming, big crowd; we just really wanted it. I know Jim Bob and Jordan wanted it, even though they fouled out.’
West Washington (5-9) was led in scoring by Thompson’s 20 points followed by Joe McKinley’s 13. Cory Batt added seven points and 13 rebounds to the Senators’ effort.
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