Last-second shot just misses as Tigers fall in OT

Caldwell County senior Tate VanHooser works the ball around for the Tiger offense while Webster County’s Hunter McNaughton applies pressure in the Trojans’ 61-60 overtime win Thursday in Princeton. Each player scored 17 points for his respective team.

Caldwell County trailed visiting Webster County 61-60 Thursday, but had 3.5 seconds left in overtime to get the ball down the court to set up a game-winning shot.

CCHS freshman Carter Whittington inbounded the ball to junior Jabrion Spikes, who dribbled three-fourths the length of the floor, got an open look and put up a 15-foot jumper from the left side that hit the opposite side of the rim and bounced away as the buzzer sounded.

Webster County senior Destin Allen hit a jumper with four seconds remaining in overtime, deciding the outcome of the game.

Caldwell County (2-7) trailed 12-6 midway through the first quarter before going on a 10-3 run into the second period to take a 16-15 lead when senior Tate VanHooser hit a 3-pointer with 6:35 left in the half.

The lead seesawed throughout the quarter, with WCHS junior Aaron Harmon making two free throws with 3.9 seconds left in the period to give the Trojans (9-2) a 29-26 halftime lead.

The Tigers came out on fire in the third quarter, with senior Tripp Branch hitting four of his five 3-point baskets in that period, pushing CCHS out to a 47-41 lead at the end of the quarter, the largest lead of the game for the Tigers.

The Trojans scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, however, tying the game at 47-47. Again, the teams exchanged baskets, with Webster County taking a 53-51 lead when senior Destin Allen made a layup with 2:27 left in regulation.

Spikes answered the call a minute later, making a layup with 1:31 left in the quarter to tie the game at 53-53, where it remained to the end of regulation.

In the 4-minute overtime, WCHS took a 56-54 lead when sophomore Bradin Nelson made one of two free-throw attempts, but Branch responded with another 3-pointer to give CCHS a 57-56 lead with 2:09 left.

Spikes put in a layup to push that lead to 59-56 with 2:09 remaining, but WCHS senior Grant Turner hit a three with 1:50 left to tie it at 59-59.

VanHooser made one of two free-throw attempts with 21.6 seconds remaining to give the Tigers a one-point lead, but Allen made a layup to give the lead back to Webster County with 4 seconds remaining.

Allen was fouled, but missed the free throw, and Whittington grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 3.5 seconds. The Tigers inbounded the ball to Spikes, who was able to shake a defender and put the ball up but just slightly off-target.

“That one stings,” said CCHS head coach Daniel Kukahiko, “but at the same time, we just talked about being in a position to win a basketball game after every quarter — and we were. We had a shot down the stretch, and the ball doesn’t quite bounce our way.

“I’m proud of the guys, especially the energy and effort they showed tonight.”

Caldwell County was led by 20 points from senior Tripp Branch. VanHooser added 17 points in his first game back after suffering an injury in the Second Region All “A” Classic championship game on Jan. 16, while Spikes put in 16.

Webster County was paced by Hunter McNaughton’s 17 points. Allen added 16 points, while Nelson put in 13.

Webster County 15 14 12 12 8 — 61

Caldwell County 11 15 21 6 7 — 60

WEBSTER COUNTY (9-2) — Holden Raley 1 0-0 3, Ryan Roland 1 2-2 5, Bradin Nelson 5 2-4 13, Hunter McNaughton 7 0-0 17, Destin Allen 5 5-6 16, Aaron Harmon 2 3-4 7, Markus Austin 0 0-0 0, Grant Turner 0 0-0 0. Total 21 12-16 61.

CALDWELL COUNTY (2-7) — Tripp Branch 7 1-1 20, Jabrion Spikes 7 1-3 16, Carter Whittington 0 0-0 0, Collin Whittington 2 1-2 5, Tate VanHooser 6 3-6 17, Zavy Bumphus 1 0-0 2, Giovante Riley 0 0-0 0, Blake Vivrette 0 0-0 0. Total 23 6-12 60.