Saturday, January 7, 2012

Heavener and Poteau play a classic

Heavener and Poteau hooked up on the basketball court once again Friday night.

The parking lot was packed a full 30 minutes before the tip off. Before the first game tipped off, there was a feeling of excitement in the air.

This was not going to be your ordinary night at the Sherman Floyd Fieldhouse.

The final game of the evening was a thriller, probably the best game I have seen all year. Players were diving for loose balls, playing with an intensity expected in a meeting between two rivals. A big lead by Poteau was wiped out and the gym started rocking as the lead dwindled and the outcome was in doubt.

Must have been the boys, right? Two of the top three seeds in the upcoming LCT pairing off in what could be a preview of the semifinals…nope. That was a sleeper. Since it was Poteau’s homecoming, that game was played first and was a blowout from the red and white.

The excitement on this night came between a Poteau team looking for its first win and a Heavener team trying to regain the glory of winning the last two LCT championships. There were turnovers, missed shots from point blank and the game was sloppy at times.

In the third quarter, it appeared like Poteau was finally going to break through and win a game. The Lady Pirates had a 12-point lead and despite some foul problems, Poteau was in control.

But just when it looked like Heavener was done, the Lady Wolves made a charge. Heavener suddenly didn’t look like a team that was 3-5 entering the game and had gotten blown out two nights before at Hartshorne.

Nine straight points by the girls in purple cut the margin to three points. After Heavener cut the lead to two, Poteau went back ahead by three. Heavener answered with a three by Amber Holt and the margin was only a pair.

After a pair of free throws by Sadie Hawkins, one of only two returning starters for Heavener along with point guard Jordan Kannady, the game was tied. Briley Benson promptly drilled a three from the top of the key with 53 seconds left and again, it looked like Poteau would finally post thate elusive “W” after playing a difficult schedule to start the season.

Watkins answered with a basket for Heavener. Only 38 seconds left now. Poteau 46, Heavener 45. One of those big, massive California earthquakes could have happened with the epicenter at Costner Stadium, and it couldn’t have been felt or heard.

A missed free throw gave Heavener a shot to go ahead. Brenna Vise, who played one of her best games for Poteau, got the steal and Poteau had possession. But the Lady Pirates failed to hang on to the ball and turned the ball back over to Heavener.

The Lady Wolves had the ball on the far end of the court with only 4.5 seconds left. Heavener called a timeout and Holt broke free for Heavener. She took a shot right at the three-point line, but missed. A whistle stopped play as the officials ruled Holt had been fouled on the shot. Only 2.1 seconds were left.

She was originally given three shots, but the officials correctly ruled Holt was inside the three-point line and would get only two free throws.

Holt was only 2-6 on free throws in the game. With every eye in the gym on the Heavener junior and the Poteau side doing everything they could to distract her, Holt calmly took the first shot. Nothing but net. The game was tied and a roar erupted from the visitor’s side like Heavener had just won another county championship.

Now, it was time for the second shot. If it was good, Heavener would probably win a game which the Lady Wolves badly needed. A miss and it would be a four-minute overtime session for a pair of teams both worn out from the frantic pace.

The official handed Holt the ball again. Again, she calmly eyed the basket, somehow blocked out the roar coming from the hundreds of Poteau faithful, let the shot go and watched as the shot was again perfect.

Heavener 47, Poteau 46. Poteau scrambled for a shot, but to no avail. It was over.

But a pair of struggling teams gave those fans who stuck around a game to remember.

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