Wildcats win double-OT thriller | ParkRecord.com

Wildcats win double-OT thriller

The South Summit Wildcats were a mess heading into Wednesday night’s game against North Summit in Coalville.

Junior forward Beau Rydalch was at home with the flu, and several other players were also nursing injuries and illnesses.

On top of all that, they had to deal with a Braves team that simply wouldn’t go away. North Summit made a habit of rallying from behind, forcing South Summit to double overtime before the Wildcats eventually escaped town with a 67-65 win.

Junior guard Nick Rees and senior forward Ben Stephens each hit contested, off-balance three-pointers for the Braves in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter to send the game into its first extra period.

In the first OT, it was the Wildcats’ turn to show a flair for the dramatic. Senior forward Garrett Crystal made a twisting layup to send the game into another overtime period.

Finally, after 40 minutes of basketball, the Wildcats were able to come out on top. Senior forward Porter Lewis spun through the lane and knocked down a layup with 30 seconds left to give his team a 66-65 lead. Junior guard Brad Richins added a free throw on the next possession for insurance.

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South Summit coach Dustin Hatch said the game didn’t play out the way the Wildcats had hoped, but he was proud of the way they battled all night long.

"It was sloppy the whole game," he said. "But we knew it was going to be like that coming in. We knew it was going to be a tough battle; they make you play poorly."

"We’ve got to clean up our mistakes," Lewis added. "We’ve got to have more poise at the end of games."

Fortunately for Hatch and the Wildcats, Lewis stepped up to fill the void left by Rydalch’s absence. In addition to hitting the game-winning shot, he played well all night long, notching a game-high 20 points and grabbing several key rebounds.

"He’s the guy we can’t have off the floor," Hatch said. "He’s our toughness. The last two or three games, he’s gotten back into his groove."

Lewis credited the team’s guards for giving him good looks at the basket.

"When they got me the ball, I did the best I could," he said. "They got me the ball when I was open."

Four other Wildcats racked up double-digit point totals too: junior guard Steven Flinders (10), senior forward Cole Richins (13), Brad Richins (12) and Crystal (10).

Stephens and sophomore forward Cameron Smith led the way for the Braves, notching 15 points apiece. Rees added 14.

South Summit is riding a three-game winning streak and has a 10-9 overall record. The team also continued its winning ways against the Braves.

"We’ve never lost to North Summit since I’ve been here," Lewis said. "We didn’t want that to end tonight."

The Wildcats were back in action on Friday night at Summit Academy, after this issue went to press. The Braves also had an away game on Friday, against Waterford.

Hatch said his team needed to play well in order to keep its region title hopes alive.

"It’s nice to be on a three-game winning streak," he said. "But we need to make it four."