Owls escape with area win

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After losing a 21-point lead in the second half, the Yantis Owls dug deep to knock off the Dodd City Hornets 63-59 in overtime to win the area championship in Wolfe City Thursday night.

Dodd City grabbed their first lead in the game, 59-57, with just 1:32 left in overtime. The Owls came back with a bucket by Tucker Hathcoat to tie things up at 59-59. The Owls got a turnover then a half-court pass from Josh Moreland to Dallas Scott under the bucket led to a layup and put Yantis ahead 61-59. Dodd City missed a shot with 21 seconds to go and the Owls’ Bradley Potts made the key rebound and was fouled. Potts, who scored 20 points in the game, calmly put in two free throws securing the win.

Yantis got the scoring started just 15 seconds into the contest on a three-point shot from the right corner by J.C. Nolen. Dodd City came right back with a triple to tie things up at 3-3. Will Graham scored on a tip-in for Yantis and the Owls led 5-3. They would not lose the lead again until overtime. Graham hit a 12-foot jump shot at 3:30 left in the opening stanza to make it 9-6 followed by a steal and layup by Dallas Scott making the score 11-6.

Potts took over the rest of the quarter for Yantis scoring after he made a steal and drove the length of the floor for a bucket. The senior hit another layup moments later and ended the quarter with a buzzer beater after driving the lane giving the Owls a 17-10 first quarter edge.

Dodd City started the second quarter hitting a trey and Graham came right back sinking a 12-foot jump shot. Nolen drained another triple and Yantis led 22-13 with 6:10 remaining in the half. Nolen added another long range triple and Graham tipped in a missed shot. The Owls got a free throw from Moreland with four seconds remaining in the half giving the Owls a 29-18 halftime advantage.

Yantis started the second half with a triple by Tucker Hathcoat. Potts hit a pair of charity tosses, Nolen hit a layup and Graham drained another trey to extend Yantis’ lead to 39-18 with 4:12 still to go in the quarter. Nolen hit a pair of short-range buckets, the final one on a an acrobatic reverse layup with 10 seconds to go in the quarter making it a 43-26 Yantis advantage going into the final frantic fourth quarter.

With the Hornets desperately in need of a comeback, they switched defensive strategies going to a 1-3-1 full-court press and the Owls committed several turnovers. A big three-point shot closed the gap to 45-35. But Yantis got a big blow when Graham was tagged for his fifth foul at the 6:32 mark. Graham had been a force on defense clogging up the middle and hitting timely shots for the Owls. The Hornets got hot from the field and made their way back into the game with good defense and dead-eye shooting. A three-point shot with 2:38 left cut the Yantis lead to 50-48.

A pair of Potts free throws with 2:09 left made it a 52-48 game, but another triple by Dodd City made it 52-51. Potts hit another free throw with 44 seconds to go making it 53-51. Dodd City tied the game up on a short jumper with 10 seconds remaining. Yantis could not get off a good shot as the buzzer sounded ending regulation at 53-53.

In the overtime Dodd City seemed to do the impossible going ahead for the first time in the game on a short jumper making the score 59-57 with 1:32 left in the overtime. Hathcoat made it 59-59 on a short bucket after Yantis raced down court. Dodd City missed a shot and that’s when Moreland made the perfect pass to Scott for the go-ahead bucket. Potts two free throws with 21 seconds left gave Yantis the 63-59 win.

Potts led the Owls with 20 points followed by Nolen with 19, Graham with 11, Scott six, Hathcoat five and Moreland two.

With the win Yantis goes to 23-3 on the year and they now will face former rival Saltillo in the quarterfinals with a return trip to Mansfield and the region finals on the line. Last year the Owls made it to Mansfield where they fell to eventual state champion Lipan in the region semi-final. The quarterfinal game was set for Tuesday after Monitor press time.

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