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If the backboard is Ralphie Stone’s friend, then Friday night it was his BFF.
Stone’s spinning bank shot at the buzzer gave the Collins boys’ basketball team a thrilling, 75-73, overtime victory over South Oldham in a match-up of two of the top teams in the 8th Region.
“[Titans assistant] coach [Dook] Combs always tells me, ‘The backboard is your friend,’ so I threw it up, and it went in,” said Stone, a junior guard/forward.
The shot did fall, setting off a celebration (Collins’ student section rushed the court) and topping off the Titans’ comeback from a 14-point, second-half deficit.
“It’s a good team win,” senior guard Camron Wells said. “We came out in the second half and fought back. We picked the intensity up and played like a team.”
The latter wasn’t so much the case in the first half, when Collins dug itself a 38-25 hole.
“We were just a little too selfish,” senior guard Buddy Johnson said.
The Titans also were allowing the Dragons to beat them backdoor then kick the ball out for open 3-pointers. South Oldham made 6 of 11 shots from long range in the first 16 minutes.
“We came out a little lost,” Collins senior forward Dez Marshall said. “But we came in the locker room [at halftime] and had a talk and turned it around in the second half.”
The Titans (4-0 after that game) tried to turn the tide their way with eight consecutive points – Johnson and Marshall hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Marshall scored inside – to start the third quarter, but the Dragons (3-2) responded with a 14-5 surge. Shae Goodlett’s 3-pointer gave South Oldham a 52-38 lead with less than 4 minutes to play in the period.
Just when it looked like the Titans might let the game slip away, they answered in a big way, scoring 14 consecutive points, including the final nine of the third quarter, to tie the score. An inside basket by Stone, a steal and layup by Lawson Page, a 3-pointer by Johnson and a jump shot by Brent Kidwell accounted for the spurt.
“We came out and stopped them defensively,” Marshall said. “That’s what got us going, our defense. We were getting stops, and that led to some easy baskets.”
The fourth quarter began with Johnson hitting a 3-pointer from the corner, off a feed from Kidwell, and Stone scoring on a spin move to tie it at 52.
The two teams then traded 6-0 runs. After South’s spurt, Marshall’s scoop shot made it 60-56. Then, after Mitch Catinna missed a point-blank layup for the Dragons, Stone scored inside.
South’s Michael Griffin missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 1:10 to play, then Wells scored on an offensive rebound on the other end to make it 60-all with 45 seconds left.
Both teams had chances to win the game in regulation, but Catinna’s short jumper – on the heels of his steal – went in and out as the final buzzer sounded.
“Our intensity picked up some in the second half,” Gaither said. “We clawed our way back into the game. Then in the end we had to buckle down and play man-to-man defense.”
Marshall’s lay-in 4 seconds into the 4-minute extra session – which featured so much scoring (the two teams combined for 28 points) it seemed like two overtimes – continued the back-and-forth pace. The Dragons answered with a basket before Stone’s old-fashioned 3-point play.
South’s Michael Haysley hit a 3-point shot to tie the score again, before Goodlett hit two free throws to give his team a 2-point lead. Wells, who elected not to come out for the team last season after playing junior varsity as a sophomore, then sandwiched a pair of baskets (the second off another offensive rebound) around Catinna’s 3-pointer before Marshall’s lay-in gave the Titans a 71-70 lead.
“We got a couple of big offensive rebounds by Camron Wells and a couple of big plays at the end by Ralphie Stone,” Gaither said. “I think those two were the difference for us tonight. Their solid play, their physical play, their defense, they changed the game for us.”
After Matthew Haysley missed for South, Marshall scored inside to give Collins a 3-point lead with 43 seconds to play.
The Dragons missed a pair of 3-point shots before forcing a tie-up situation and getting the ball back. That led to Michael Haysley’s hitting a 23-footer with 4 seconds left to tie the score.
The Titans quickly in-bounded the ball then called a timeout with 2.9 seconds to play. With the ball in front of South Oldham’s bench, Page in-bounded the ball to Stone, who was along the sideline. Stone then drove to the baseline, spun back toward the middle and banked in the game-winner.
“Lawson made a good heads-up play to get the ball to him, and Ralphie created,” Gaither said.
The Titans, who hosted Madison Central on Tuesday night, host Shelby County at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“We can’t get big-headed. We have to keep playing to the best of our ability. We’ll see them [South Oldham] in region,” said Marshall, who scored a game-high 26 points.
Collins 73, Southern 59
The Titans (5-0) led, 23-10, at the end of the first quarter and never looked back Saturday in beating the Trojans (3-3) in the Mike Casey Classic.
“It was just good to get a win after an emotional Friday night game. We played good defense and turned them over some,” Gaither said.
Marshall tallied a team-high 16 points, Johnson added 15 and Stone 13 in reserve. Masai Whyte also contributed nine points off the bench, all in the second half, and senior center Terez Smith had eight points – all in the Titans’ big first period.