Tharptown heartbroken in final seconds
An epic fourth quarter comeback bid by the fourth-ranked Tharptown Wildcats was crushed by a buzzer-beater layup by the Tanner Rattlers Feb. 10. Tanner defeated Tharptown 76-75 and dashed the Wildcats hopes of a trip to the Northwest Regionals.
Trailing by 15 points late in the third quarter, the Wildcats went on a 9-0 run in the early stages of the fourth quarter to close the gap to 58-53 with 4:52 remaining. The run was sparked by a Drake Lawson three-pointer and two Blake Gray put backs.
After a couple of baskets by the Rattlers, Max Nolen sank a three-pointer with 2:39 remaining to make the score 66-62. With close to a minute left in the game Gray sank a free throw and a layup to cap off a 29-14 run to tie the game at 69-69. After trading free throws, Bailey Motes gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game since the first quarter on a floater in the lane to make the score 71-70.
With six seconds remaining in the game Max Nolen crossed the lane and hit a pull-up jumper to give Tharptown a 75-74 lead. After a controversial time out due to the noise and questions of when and where the whistle blew, Tanner got the ball underneath the Wildcat basket with six seconds to go. They went the length of the court and after a quick pass to Mayberry, who was underneath the goal, got an easy layup to win the game.
“I’m just heartbroken for these players,” said an emotional Tharptown coach Jonathan Odom after the game. “I would rather lose by twenty than lose like that. It’s just heartbreaking.
“There are some hurt guys in that locker room. They went out there and gave it their all in the fourth quarter. I couldn’t have asked for a better effort.”
The loss ends an impressive season for the Tharptown squad.
“We had some big time players make some big time players for us down the stretch,” said Odom. “I hate for our seniors to go out like that but they have a lot to be proud of.”
Tanner led Tharptown 14-13 at the end of the first quarter. The Rattlers had extended their lead to 37-30 by halftime and led 55-44 at the end of the third quarter.
Max Nolen led the Wildcats with 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Blake Gray added 16 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter. Bailey Motes scored 12 for the Wildcats. Others scoring for Tharptown were Drake Lawson (8), Eric Odell (7), Heath Hatton (3), Nathan Chaney (3), and Mikey Rosson (2).
Tharptown season ends with a 27-3 overall record and an 8-0 record in area competition in their first season in the 2A classification.