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franklin county times

Bulldogs burned in OT

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
BELGREEN - The words running through Nathan Hamilton's mind as the final buzzer sounded on Tuesday succinctly expressed the sentiments of the entire Belgreen basketball team.
"Not again," Hamilton thought to himself as time expired. "This can't be happening again."
But it did.
Tom Berryman's pull-up jumper with five seconds left in overtime lifted No. 6 Shoals Christian to a 73-71 victory over the Bulldogs, who lost their second straight game in overtime and third in the past month.
Starting with a two-point loss to Haleyville at the TimesDaily Classic in late December, Belgreen (7-13) has lost six games by five points or less.
"It seems like we keep finding ways to not win the close ones," said Hamilton, whose season-high 30 points included a buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of regulation. "We just have to keeping working hard. The more hard work you do, the more good things will happen to you. Hopefully, by the time the area tournament gets here, we'll be able to win these close games."
The Bulldogs appeared on the verge of a breakthrough win on Tuesday when a driving layup by Josh Dobbs gave them a 71-67 lead with 2:00 left in overtime.
Belgreen failed to score again, however, amid some questionable no-calls by the officials.
"We got fouled on two or three trips there at the end, and they didn't call it," Bulldog coach Steve Pounders said. "When we don't shoot a single foul shot over the final 20 minutes of a game against a team playing aggressive pressure defense, something's wrong."
The Flame finished the night 15-of-22 from the line, while Belgreen was just 3-of-5.
Shoals Christian (17-4) tied the game 71-71 on a layup by Sam Hamilton with 1:20 remaining.
After a Belgreen miss, the Flame ran the clock down to 12 seconds and called timeout.
Berryman took the ball at the top of the key and dribbled to his right before nailing a 17-footer to put the Flame on top by two.
Belgreen called timeout to set up a final play, but it never materialized as Hamilton slipped and lost control of the ball in the backcourt.
"First of all, I was supposed to stay on my feet," Hamilton joked afterwards. "Then I was supposed to take the ball as far as I could and either shoot it or look for somebody to dish it off to. I just lost my footing."
Hamilton had far more success on Belgreen's final possession of regulation, thanks to a last-second improvisation.
With the Bulldogs trailing 63-60 and inbounding the ball underneath their own basket with 1.8 seconds left, Hamilton was supposed to come off a screen into the corner on the ball side.
"I think everybody in the stadium knew I was supposed to go ball side, and my defender was playing me about three feet that way," Hamilton said. "So I took off for the other corner and started screaming at Andrew [Cansler]. He threw me the ball, and thank God I made it."
Hamilton's wide-open trey from the right corner hit nothing but net as the buzzer sounded, and Belgreen rode that wave of momentum to a quick four-point lead in overtime.
But Zane Olive had a pair of key baskets as Shoals Christian held its composure, and Berryman's jumper gave the Flame their 12th straight victory.
"Give [Shoals Christian] credit," Pounders said. "They were able to penetrate into the lane and get some easy shots tonight."
Pounders said that the absence of senior forward Cody Rikard, who injured his knee in Saturday's overtime loss to Hale County, weakened Belgreen's interior defense.
"We had to play a few people out of position at times," Pounders said. "When we would substitute, it left us with some combinations that we're not quite used to. We may have been a little uncomfortable with that."
Shoals Christian led by nine points after a putback by Jamie Barnett midway through the fourth quarter, but Hamilton had three baskets in an 8-0 run by the Bulldogs that trimmed the lead to 56-55 with 2:00 remaining.
The Flame made just 3-of-6 free throws on their next three trips to the line, and Avis Smith's three-pointer with 30 seconds left brought Belgreen within a point at 61-60.
Two free throws by freshman Andy Almond set the stage for Hamilton's game-tying three-pointer.
Avis Smith finished with 16 points for the Bulldogs, and Josh Smith added nine before fouling out late in regulation.
Cansler had eight points, and Dobbs added six.
Berryman led Shoals Christian with 19 points, including 12 in the first half as the Flame led 33-29.
Barnett added 14 points, and Hamilton had 13. Jacob Voss finished with 10 points, and Olive and Almond each added eight.
Hamilton's three-pointer midway through the first quarter gave him nine points and put Belgreen on top 11-8, but the Flame battled back to claim a 24-17 lead at the end of one.

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