The matchup between South Webster and Portsmouth West on Friday night showcased a little bit of everything.
There were dunks, buzzer beaters, and all sorts of drama in an overtime game that ended up in the hands of the Jeeps by a score of 77-72.
South Webster led by as many as 18 points in the first half, but West would rally in the second half to force overtime.
Junior Shiloah Blevins was spectacular for the Jeeps, posting 33 points in the contest. Blevins had 24 points at the end of the first half.
“He’s an extraordinary athlete, and we’re blessed to have him,” South Webster head coach Brenton Cole said. “He gets rebounds, he’ll contest shots, he makes it hard on whoever he’s guarding. He’s just a phenomenal player making baskets and being in control of the ball.”
It was the hot shooting of LT Maynard for the Senators that kept West afloat late, as Maynard drained a three-pointer at the horn to tie the game at 63 all. Maynard would lead the Senators with 25 points.
“He’s been our leader,” West head coach Bill Hafer said. “He’s knocked down shots when you need it, good shots too. He’s controlled his game more than he has in the past, and that’s helped everything.”
“He knows he can shoot, but at the same time he’s not forcing anything.”
The Jeeps got off on the right foot in the first quarter, surging ahead to a 10-2 lead to start the game.
Devyn Coriell started the scoring for South Webster, following his own miss early in the game for a layup to open the scoring.
“Devyn Coriell did a great job, he didn’t come out of the game,” Cole said. “He did a great job on offense controlling the ball and getting pressure.”
Blevins would score on the next possession for the Jeeps with an aggressive drive down the lane that drew contact. The junior finished the play with a lay in, then sank the free throw to put South Webster ahead 5-0.
To conclude the run, Blevins drilled a three-pointer.
That wasn’t all Blevins had to offer in the opening period, as he sent home a ferocious dunk from the right baseline with 34 seconds left in the first to put the Jeeps up 17-6.
Then, Blevins hit another three from just off the top of the key as the quarter came to a close, putting South Webster up 20-6 after one.
The Senators found themselves in some early foul trouble, as Dylan Bradford recorded his third foul of the contest just over seven minutes in.
Shortly after, the Jeeps were in the bonus and would use those free throws in the first half to help stretch their lead.
Early on, the size and length of South Webster was giving West some problems.
“We got a little tentative at the rim,” Hafer said. “I think their length kind of got in our heads a little bit, and we just short armed some of our shots.”
In the second quarter, both schools exchanged baskets back and forth. With 1:15 to go before the half, Blevins buried a jumper to stretch the led to 18.
“The first half is where we won the game,” Cole said. “We came out strong playing defense, making free throws, making shots, and making tough jumpers.”
West needed a lift before the break in a major way, and they would get that from Maynard, who hit a three-pointer from the corner on an inbounds pass with 1.6 seconds remaining.
At halftime, South Webster was on top 41-27.
In the third quarter and throughout the second half, the Senators experimented with some matchup shifts to try and stall Blevins.
“In the second half, we went more with Isaiah Norman,” Hafer said. “He gave everything he had, he’s strong and he’s quick, but he just moved his feet and tried to make it tough on him. That’s all we could do and just hope for the best.”
The Jeeps appeared to still be in control, especially after Andrew Smith was fouled on a corner three ball and hit all three free throws.
“He did a great job with the ball in his hands,” Cole said. “He’s the one that made us a bunch of points from the free throw line, and he did a good job not turning the ball over.”
West answered back with some three-pointers of their own, as Maynard had three in the quarter.
Inching their way back, the Senators had the scoreboard looking more respectable at 49-40 after three.
In what was a complete fourth quarter for West, the Senators scored 23 points and allowed just 14.
With 49.4 seconds left to play, though, the comeback still appeared bleak as West was behind 61-55 after Smith made two free throws.
Maynard would score eight straight points for the Senators to fuel the comeback, and some spotty free throw shooting from South Webster allowed West to stay in the action.
Behind 63-60 with 16.3 seconds left, the Senators would slow things down and set up for a good shot. They would get just that as Maynard popped a three as time expired from the left elbow.
“It’s just LT being LT,” Hafer said. “That’s who we want with the ball in his hands there.”
“We tried to come up and set a quick for him with Jessie Johnson, and we had it but LT just kept moving to the side and got a clear look, got his feet set, and knocked it down.”
Most importantly, Hafer’s group never stopped playing.
“We didn’t give up,” Hafer said. “We got down big in the first half … We kept fighting, and I’m proud of the guys to force OT when we were down that much.”
What seemed like a game that was all but wrapped up was now going into an extra period.
After a high scoring first half, the Jeeps had a harder time finding the bottom of the net in the last two quarters.
“The second half rolls around, and we got a little bit stagnant on offense,” Cole said. “I think we only had three field goals in the second half, but we really made a living from the free throw line.”
“We played not to lose I think. We played more not to lose instead of to keep attacking on offense and win.”
Cole was not surprised that LT hit the clutch shot to send the game into overtime.
“He makes shots like that, that’s what he does,” Cole said on Maynard. “I’ve watched him make shots like that since he was small. He wants them, and he makes them.”
Both sides would exchange scores early in OT, but South Webster was able to pull away late with a 5-0 run in the closing seconds to go up 77-69.
Jacob Witter of the Jeeps grabbed some huge rebounds and hit some clutch free throws to will his team to the win late.
“He hit some great shots for us,” Cole said. “He’s a decent shooter midrange, he got rebounds and guarded his man well.”
Bradford hit a three late in the game with only seconds left, but by that point it was too late for a miracle and South Webster was victorious 77-72.
“You get the three-pointer on you at the buzzer, and that’s a really tough thing to come back from,” Cole said. “Our kids really pushed through it, and took control in overtime.”
Both teams showed a lot of fight in what ended up being a game that demonstrated the toughness of the Jeeps and Senators.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer