Tigers one step closer to Birmingham

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Johnathan Driver's basket in the third overtime put the Tigers up for good.

Johnathan Driver’s basket in the third overtime put the Tigers up for good.

The Straughn Tigers are one step closer to Birmingham with a 35-32 triple-overtime victory over the Clarke County Bulldogs in the first round of the class 4A South Regional in Dothan Saturday.


The Tigers were the first to get on the scoreboard when Tucker Lawless drew a foul while going up for a layup. Lawless sank both free throws to put the Tigers up early. Xavier Burden tied the game up with his only basket of the contest at the seven-minute mark in the first period. Lawless put the Tigers back on top with a jumper, and then Tavarus Gaillard tied the game back up 15 seconds later. Rollin Kinsaul broke the tie with a nifty spin-move on a layup to put the Tigers up 6-4 with five minutes left in the opening period. Marshall Farley pushed the lead up to 8-4 with basket a few minutes later. Kinsaul accounted for 2 more points in the first period with a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line. Kinsaul ended the scoring for the Tigers in the first period with a layup with 50 seconds remaining in the period. Jacorey Morris got a bucket for the Bulldogs with 30 seconds left. At the end for the first period, the Tigers were up 12-10.


Austin Bozeman got his first points of the contest after corralling an offensive rebound, and putting it back up for 2 points. Gaillard connected on a 3-pointer that cut the Tigers’ lead to 14-13. Brice Scott put the lead back to two with a 1-for-2 trip to the free throw line. After a defensive stop on the other side of the court, Scott buried a 3-pointer that gave the Tigers their biggest lead during regulation at 18-13. Gaillard quickly cut the lead back down to one with consecutive baskets. With four seconds remaining in the second period Lawless went to free throw line and sank both attempts to give the Tigers a 20-17 advantage at halftime.


The Bulldogs opened up the third period with a basket from Laquinton Rhone that brought the score to 20-19. Lawless answered back with 2 points of his own off an assist from Kinsaul. Rhone followed with 2 more points on a slam-dunk. Lawless and Johnathan Driver converted consecutive baskets putting the Tigers up 26-21 with one minute left in the third period. Scott added 1 point off a free throw. The Tigers led 27-25 heading into the final period in regulation.


Lawless opened up the fourth period with another perfect trip to the free throw line to put the Tigers up 29-25 early in the period. Morris brought the Tigers’ lead back down to two with a 2-for-2 trip to the free throw line. Gaillard then tied the game up 29-29 with six minutes left in the contest. Scott broke the tie with layup off a lob from Kinsaul. The Bulldogs then got their first lead of the game with a 3-pointer from Chaunce Chapman with four minutes left in regulation. Lawless tied the contest up by hitting the front end of a one-and-one opportunity. The Bulldogs went back up by one when Burden went 1-for-2 from the line. Lawless then put the Tigers up by one with a bucket around the three-minute mark. The Bulldogs took the lead right back with two free throws from Gaillard. Lawless tied the game up with a free throw with less than two minutes left, and at the end of regulation the score was tied 35-35.


The Tigers shot out of the gate in the first overtime with 6 straight points. Scott had 4 points and Kinsaul added 2 points during the stretch to give the Tigers a 41-35 lead with two minutes left in the first overtime. The Bulldogs weren’t going away easily though. Morris trimmed the lead with a layup, and then Gaillard cut the lead to one with a 3-pointer with just over one minute left. Gaillard then gave the Bulldogs a 43-41 lead on another 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining. With nine seconds left in the first overtime, Rodney Coates went to the free throw line with a chance to put the Bulldogs up by four. Coates missed both free throws. Kinsaul soared up and corralled the rebound. As soon as his feet hit the ground, Kinsaul fired a pass to Scott who was streaking down the court all by himself. Scott hauled in the pass and finished it off with a layup that tied the game 43-43 with 1.7 seconds left on the clock sending the game into a second overtime.


The Tigers got the first point of the second overtime with a 1-for-2 effort from the free throw line. Lawless extended the Tigers’ lead with a pair of free throws that put the Tigers up 46-43 with a little more than two minutes left in the period. Chapman connected with his second 3-pointer to tie the game back up at 46-46. Lawless and Kinsaul added 1 point each off free throws, and the Tigers were up 48-46 with 9.9 seconds left. The Bulldogs pushed the ball quickly down the floor. Chapman thought about firing up a 3-pointer, but passed to Rhone who hit a 19-foot jumper that tied the game as the buzzer sounded.


Scott opened up the third overtime with 2 points to give the Tigers a 50-48 lead. Manuel Davis gave the Bulldogs a 51-50 lead with a 3-pointer with just under two minutes left. Driver gave the Tigers back the lead 52-51 with 1:37 remaining in the third overtime. The lead changed hands again with 45 seconds left when Gaillard connected for 2 more points and a 53-52 lead for the Bulldogs. Driver responded with a beautiful step-back jumper that put the Tigers up 54-53 with 20 seconds left. The Tigers got the ball back with, and Scott was fouled with 7 seconds left on the clock. Scott sank 1-of-2 free throws to put the Tigers up 55-53. The Bulldogs had one last chance to, but couldn’t get a buzzer-beater to fall.


Gaillard led the Bulldogs with 21 points, and Chapman finished with 10.


Lawless led the Tigers with 19 points and 6 rebounds. Lawless was also 11-for-16 from the free throw line. Scott added 16 points and 8 rebounds. Kinsaul finished with 9 points and 2 assists. Driver totaled 7 points.


“Our senior leadership really paid off tonight,” Tigers’ head coach Rusty Andrews said. “I always tell them to just give it your best and never give up, and they did that tonight. When they tied it up and sent it to a second overtime, we kind of looked deflated, and I just reminded the guys that it was just a tie game. The seniors really handle adversity well, and that is the best part of having such a senior laden team.”


The Straughn Tigers will face the St. James Trojans for the 4A South Regional championship at 11 a.m. Wednesday.