Eagles Toppled in 4-OT Thriller

Noah Edwards (13), Mitchell Gibbons (22) and Gunnar Hensley (21) do battle under the basket. (Photo/Ross Burton)

Noah Edwards (13), Mitchell Gibbons (22) and Gunnar Hensley (21) do battle under the basket. (Photo/Ross Burton)

WINNSBORO (Jan. 27, 2016) – After three overtime periods, Richard Winn Academy’s boys’ basketball team finally seemed to have found Wardlaw’s breaking point Tuesday night.

That is, until Rychard Coates stepped up one last time for the Patriots at the RWA gym and closed the game out.

Coates got a quick basket with 41 seconds left. Then, after both teams committed turnovers, he found the ball in his hands with less than 11 seconds on the clock.

Coates dribbled just behind the 3-point arc, took aim and drained a game-clinching 3-pointer that ended an epic battle between the two non-region rivals and gave the Patriots a 62-61 victory.

“It was an exciting game for the fans, but sort of gut-wrenching for the coaches,” Richard Winn head coach Joe Pitt said. “We had opportunities, both teams did, but sometimes we handed it back to them, sometimes they handed it back to us. They made some critical mistakes, we made some critical mistakes. It was like both teams didn’t want to seal the deal.”

Coates finished the night with 29 points, 12 rebounds and 10 steals to lead Wardlaw (12-5). Ed Williams had 15 points.

“He’s a true leader, a quiet leader,” head coach Richard Coates said of Rychard Coates. “He don’t talk, he just plays the game and tries to get everybody involved in the game. Our young kids, they stepped it up as well.”

Mitchell Gibbons had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead Richard Winn (2-11). Todd Johnson had 14 points and Bryant Carvalho had 10.

Up until that time, it seemed Richard Winn had finally broken out of the Overtime Zone.

Carvalho hit the first of two free throws to put the Eagles up 57-56 with 1:39 left to go in the fourth OT. Then Carvalho scooped up a loose ball at midcourt and dribbled into the lane for an easy layup at the 1:13 mark.

Wardlaw’s Nick Carr added a free throw to cut Richard Winn’s edge to 59-57. With 49 seconds to go, Johnson sank a pair of foul shots that gave the Eagles a 61-57 lead, which seemed insurmountable.

But once Coates’ 3-pointer dropped, the Eagles fell into the loss column for the second straight game that was decided in overtime.

“They hit a big shot for them, they hit a huge shot,” Pitt said. “We had two guys on him (Coates) and he hit it.”

Richard Winn fell 46-44 to Laurens Academy in OT in Region 2-1A play Friday night.

Losing hotly contested games back-to-back is tough enough. The Eagles will have to get back up and play host to region leader Anderson Christian Friday night.

“They’re the best team coming at us,” Pitt said. “We’ve just got to get back to work tomorrow.”

The Eagles and Patriots finished regulation having battled wire-to-wire for a sizable lead.

Richard Winn came back from an early 12-6 deficit to build a 28-23 lead going into halftime. The Eagles took a 38-31 advantage after the third quarter and led 44-36 with three minutes to go. The Patriots went on a 10-2 scoring run to finish regulation.

Coates’ put-back with 31 seconds to go evened the game at 46 and sent the teams into a stalemate that lasted through four 4-minute overtime periods.

“It was a well-played game. It could have gone either way,” coach Coates said. “It was about the best high school ball game I’ve ever been involved in.”

Wardlaw 62, Richard Winn 61, 4OT

W: 14-9-8-15-2-6-2-6 – 62

RW: 12-16-10-8-2-6-2-5 – 61

W – Rychard Coates 29, Ed Williams 15, Carr 7, Sherrill 4, F. Williams 4, Padgett 3. R – Mitchell Gibbons 22, Todd Johnson 14, Bryant Carvalho 10, Coleman 9, Edwards 6. REC: Wardlaw 12-5, Richard Winn 2-11.