Warriors outlast Alexandria in double OT, secure spot in Champions Sports Academy Christmas Classic title game
ANNISTON – Cherokee County jumped out to a 13-point first quarter lead and led by 14 with seven minutes to play, but the Warriors needed double overtime before they could punch their ticket to the championship game of the Champions Sports Academy Christmas Classic.
The Warriors eventually took out Alexandria 75-68 in an improbable double overtime victory that would befit a Stephen King thriller. They will play Saks on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Alexandria-area facility for the title.
It all started when Warrior guard, Jy Lockridge, slipped on a wet floor and took a nasty spill while going for a layup that would have put the Warriors up 16.
And it got crazier from there.
There were two more slips on the floor creating turnovers for the Warriors, 13 straight Alexandria points in less than four minutes, 46 free throws, a miracle shot from the baseline at the buzzer in regulation, an improbable three-point play from the free throw line with six seconds to go to send it to a double overtime, two bench warnings by the officials, six players fouling out, a substitution for a fouled out player with another fouled out player, four lost seconds on the clock in the first overtime, and a totally exhausted crowd, players and coaches.
“I don’t really know where to start,” a hoarse Cherokee County coach Neal Wester said. “We were up by 14 and I thought we had them. So many things happened in the last quarter and overtimes.
“Our guys just never quit and neither did they. What a game.”
Alexandria’s Jamal Tucker had seven points during the amazing fourth-quarter Cubs comeback that gave them the lead at 52-51. The lead would change hands three more times. Chase Smitherman gave the Valley Cubs the lead at 57-55 with 40 seconds left in regulation. After three time outs created by great Alexandria defense, the Warriors’ Quartez Henderson finally shook free and hit a baseline jumper at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Alexandria went up by four points in overtime and appeared to be on their way to the win, but missed free throws kept the Warriors alive. Trailing 62-59 with seconds left 9 in overtime Riley Russell was at the line. He made the first and missed the second. In a flurry in front of the basket Lockridge grabbed the ball and banked it in from just inside the free throw line to send the game into double overtime.
Kyle Burgess nailed a huge 3 from the corner to put Cherokee County up 65-62 to start the second overtime. The Warriors extended the lead to 73-64 behind six points from Lockridge and were finally able to put away the stubborn Valley Cubs.
“I was proud of the way we fought back after falling behind,” said Wester. ”I wish I could say that we missed the free throw on purpose in the first overtime so that we could get the rebound, but we did not. It just happened.”
The Warriors had a strong first quarter, knocking down four 3-pointers with Joshua Dobbs getting two. A 12- point run at the end of the quarter put Cherokee County up 20-7.
The Valley Cubs stayed in the game at the free-throw line as they made 11 of 15 in the first half and chopped the deficit to 32-23 at the half. Colin Edwards had two 3-pointers for the Warriors in the second quarter, while Austin Taylor had five points for the Valley Cubs.