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Sam Rayburn drops season opener in triple overtime

November 15, 2017

If Sam Rayburn’s varsity boys basketball team was looking for an extra special way to celebrate a brand-new high school basketball season, they came up with a unique way of doing it.

Baytown Sterling snapped a 77-77 deadlock with an 8-3 surge in a third overtime that lifted the Rangers to a dramatic 85-83 non-district victory over the Texans Tuesday night.

There were a thousand turning points in a game that had all the trappings of a state playoff atmosphere. Momentum swings were a dime-a-dozen.

Rayburn went 1-for-4 from the free-throw line when Sterling began its game-winning move. When the Rangers went up 82-78 on a bucket that Rayburn’s Tyreke Chatman nearly got a hand to knock the pass away, it represented the largest lead during the three overtimes. Sam Rayburn enjoyed a 73-70 lead in the second overtime on a Deunte Walls lay-up, but never a two-possession game.

Rayburn would make it 82-80 on a Jido Hinojosa bucket, but no closer. On Sterling’s next possession the Rangers sank the first of two free-throw attempts. The ensuing carom after the missed foul shot saw a Ranger and Texan collide with their bodies to the right of the bucket and the basketball, which never landed in anyone’s hands, drifted into the cylinder for a five-point advantage with only seconds remaining.

“We’ve got to do a better job of rebounding. A couple of times, it was two guys. And we’ve got to take care of the ball better, especially when we were up 11,” Sam Rayburn head coach Ryan Campbell said.

Campbell was referring to that moment in the third period when his guys were leading 51-40. Tied 33-33 at halftime, Rayburn came out on fire from behind the arc in the third period. The Texans hit seven buckets and all seven came from behind the 3-point arc. Joe Flores led the way with four bonus buckets and it was his third one that gave Rayburn its largest lead of the night.

How hot was Flores? His fourth one rolled around the rim, kissed the backboard and dropped into the net, keeping the lead at nine, 54-45.

But Sterling was red-hot as well from the outside. On the other side of the fourth quarter, the Rangers hit their 11th and 12th 3-point goals for a 55-54 lead.

The two teams would spend the rest of the final eight minutes tied four more times. Sterling would take a 63-61 lead with 1:35 remaining in the game only to have freshman Keon Edwards drain two free-throw attempts with 1:14 remaining.

Baytown Sterling held the ball for that final 1:14, calling time with 6.6 seconds left. The tension only increased significantly over those final 6.6 seconds. Edwards came up with a block, the rejected ball landing in the hands of another Ranger, whose attempt at a buzzer-beating shot sailed over the goal as time expired, sending the two teams into what proved to be a very long sudden death situation.

In the first overtime, Rayburn didn’t drain any field goals but still forced a second OT when it went 7-of-10 from foul line. The two teams went the last minute without scoring, producing a 70-70 tie. Edwards, who was 6-of-8 from the foul line during the first OT, finished with 26 points as did Walls.

In the second OT, the Texans scored the opening three points, taking advantage of a cold-shooting Rangers team. Sterling missed its opening 10 shots and Walls grabbed the defensive rebound on that 10th straight misfire. But as he attempted to move the ball up the court, he lost the handle and it rolled all the way to midcourt where a mad scramble led to Sterling snatching it and scoring. While all that was happening, Campbell was trying desperately to call time but to no avail.

How huge would it have been had Rayburn maintained possession and scored? Instead, the visitors drew within one and then took the lead with 18 seconds left. But five seconds later, Edwards connected twice from the foul line only to have Sterling knot it with 8.8 seconds remaining, creating the third OT.

The other Rayburn scorers had Chatman finishing with 13 and Flores with 12. Edwards enjoyed a double-double because he also pulled down 12 rebounds.

Sterling’s attack was led by Montrell Jeffery’s 18 points and Nathan Joseph’s 13. Three others scored 11 points.