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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dixie Wins in Overtime

Two teams playing for pride left it all on the court Saturday night. They represented their respective leagues - the CCC and the SWBL, and their schools – Franklin Monroe and Dixie. No league title on the line, or district trophy – just two teams battling into the night for the right to walk out of the gym a winner. Intensity is the first word that describes this game. It was the last game of the season for both teams and either team could have take the night off and focused instead on the state tournament next week. But that is not in the DNA of these players – instead they left skin on the floor diving for loose balls and banged bodies under the boards fighting for rebounds.

The first quarter set the tone for the night. It was senior night for Dixie and they put 5 seniors on the floor to start the game. Dixie marched out to an early lead, but the Jets went on a 7-0 run and were up 14-8 at one point. In a theme that would run true the entire night – when one team grew a lead, the other would make a run and catch up. Dixie responded, closed that gap and it was 14-12 at the end of the quarter.

Dixie mixed up their defenses during the night. Using either a man to man or a zone. Meanwhile the Jets used a man to man defense and would alternately apply full court pressure to the Greyhounds. Dixie pulled ahead in the last part of the 2nd quarter. They did a good job of not letting the Jets score in the paint during this run and had a decent 25-20 half time lead.

The second half saw both teams offenses wake up and accelerate the pace. Franklin Monroe more than equaled their 1st half output in the 3rd quarter alone, putting up 21 points. Dixie clung to the lead at the end of the frantic 3rd quarter, but now it was a 1 point game – 42 to 41.

Both teams were playing defense vigorously in the 4th quarter, but Dixie was racking up the fouls and were giving up bonus before the midway point of the quarter. In the 4th quarter and the 2 overtimes Franklin Monroe was a respectable 14 of 16 from the line – that helped keep them in the game. Dixie was up by 2 with about 30 seconds left in the final quarter of regulation, but the Jet's Mason Conley hit a layup to tie the game and send it to overtime – keeping the Jets hopes alive.

In the first overtime it looked like Dixie was going to seal the win when Blake Miller hit a layup with less than 20 seconds left. But the Jet's Ethan Conley knotted the score at 67-all when he scored on a put back as the clock ran out. In the last overtime Franklin Monroe got a little sloppy with their ball handling and gave up some easy turnovers to Dixie who converted them into points. It was senior night for Dixie, but a sophomore cemented the Dixie win. Dixie was up by a point with under a minute left but were able to pad their lead when sophomore Devon Worley was fouled twice in the waning seconds of the game. He sank 2 free throws each trip to put the game out of reach of the Jets 76-71.

“It was an intense game,” remarked coach Williams afterwards, “Franklin Monroe came with some fire. I liked the battle, I liked that the kids dug deep, and in the end we got the stops that we needed and we got the shots that we needed. Blake Miller has been playing phenomenally the last half of the season. He's been playing to his potential and thats what we need for him to do. This is the first time in my 6 years of coaching that I have beaten Franklin Monroe. And it took overtime to beat them.”

And this game was just a precursor – they meet again next week in the 1st round of the state tournament. Dixie and Franklin Monroe will have another battle royale at Northmont Saturday at 6pm. So be prepared for round two, another toe to toe fight to the finish.

Scoring for Dixie: Caleb Rutledge 4, Cody Grubb 8, Austin Simpson 2, Devon Worley 21, Blake Miller 28, Joey Gengler 3, Ethan Arnett 6, Dakota Grice 4.

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