Prep hoops: South Rowan boys 74, Mt. Pleasant 73, OT

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 8, 2011

By Mike London
MOUNT PLEASANT — South Rowan’s boys charged right into the “Guinness Book of World Records” on Thursday at Mount Pleasant.
The category? “Worst foul trouble ever.”
With 5:23 left in the third quarter — yes, the third quarter — starters Shawn Spry, Nathan Lambert and Houston Allen — all had four fouls each.
That South, which got 19 points from Josh Medlin and huge 3s from backups Dylan Goodman, Robbie Sherrill and Eric Tyler, still won 74-73 in overtime was astonishing, but both teams are still trying to figure out how to win.
“We’re 2-4 now, and we could just as easily be 6-0,” sighed MP coach Jason Seidel. “Every game that we’ve been in has been close, and South’s also lost close ones to some teams in our league (SPC) that are pretty stacked. South’s better than its record.”
That record is now 1-5, but South coach John Davis, who logged his 107th career varsity win the hard way, is pretty sure that 1-5 is better than 0-6.
“Obviously, we’re still a work in progress,” a drained Davis said. “But a win’s a win, and we love wins.”
The whistles came early and often, and that’s not a complaint, just a fact of life.
“Mount Pleasant must have shot 70 free throws,” said Davis, who was exaggerating only slightly. “It was mostly ticky-tacky stuff, lots of reach-in fouls, but I can’t think of any that were called that weren’t fouls. As a player you’ve got to see how the game’s being called and adjust to that.”
South went 11-for-15 from the foul line in the first quarter to take a 17-11 lead.
The Raiders actually were up 14 points — 27-13 three minutes into the second quarter — before Dezmond Leach almost single-handedly turned the tide for Mount Pleasant. Leach had 11 of his 31 points in the second quarter to pull the Tigers within 32-25 at halftime.
“We were playing sloppy, but we still got out to a decent lead,” Davis said. “Then I think we got lulled to sleep.”
It was too loud to sleep in the third quarter. Whistles were blowing, and Leach was starting to get help from big guy Blake Koceja, who could write a book entitled “Proper Post Man Fundamentals.”
South still led 47-42 after three quarters, but Spry fouled out and Allen fouled out.
The game appeared to be slipping away from the Raiders as the struggle neared the end of regulation. When Koceja scored in the paint with 29 seconds left, the Tigers led 61-57, and Mount fans were pulling out car keys in a traditional “drive home safely” gesture. But the craziness had only begun, and Medlin, who was introducing himself to a new teammate every few seconds, was about to take over.
“I only had two fouls,” Medlin said. “Not sure how that happened, but I knew I had to try to lift my teammates.”
Medlin scored South’s last eight points of regulation, nailing two clutch free throws with 27 seconds left and two more with 10 seconds to go. If he’d missed any of those four, the Raiders would’ve lost.
The Tigers had the last shot of regulation, but they missed from outside, and Qua Neal secured the vital rebound for South.
South lost Lambert to fouls early in a frantic OT period.
It was Tyler, best-known as the baseball team’s catcher, who hit the wing 3-pointer that put South ahead to stay at 67-65 with 2:43 left in the OT. Neal scored in transition for a four-point lead, but then he got his fifth foul with 2:21 remaining.
After that, it was Medlin and four reserves, but the Raiders were declared winners when MP guard Trey Swaringen missed a desperate runner from the right baseline in the final seconds.
“It hurt us that Koceja had fouled out,” Seidel said. “We didn’t get the ideal last shot.”
There wasn’t much ideal about this game, but it was still a barrel of fun.
“A pretty sloppy win, but we’ll take any win we can get, Medlin said with a grin.
SOUTH ROWAN (74) — Medlin 19, Neal 13, Sherrill 12, Spry 9, Tyler 7, Allen 6, Lambert 5, Goodman 3, Garlin, Washington, D. Parker, Buchanan.
MOUNT PLEASANT (73) — Leach 31, Koceja 16, Swaringen 12, A. Parker 6, Filiberti 4, Taylor 2, Moore 2, Hunt, Bingham.
S. Rowan 17 15 15 14 13 — 74
Mt. Pleas. 11 14 17 19 12 — 73