'Stangs Denied in Overtime
North Moore's boys basketball team made its first nine free throws at Chatham Central Friday. Make the 10th, and the result likely would have been different.
The Mustangs missed a free throw that would have given them a four-point lead with 35 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of a game they led most of the way, and Chatham Central capitalized, nailing a 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
Steven Clark scored 11 of his game-high 21 points in the extra period to lead the Bears to a 63-62 come-from-behind win.
"We had an opportunity to win it in regulation, and we didn't take advantage of that," said North Moore head coach Grant Smith. "We had a couple of crucial turnovers and mental breakdowns, but the kids played hard."
The Mustangs (1-6, 0-2 Yadkin Valley Conference) led by as many as eight points in the second half and held a 50-43 lead with 82 seconds remaining in regulation. But Clark hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four points, and after one of two North Moore turnovers in the closing minute of the fourth quarter, the Bears added another field goal to trail 50-48 when Mustang point guard John Spivey stepped to the free throw line with 35 seconds remaining.
The senior made the first free throw but missed the second, leaving the door open for Chatham Central's Cody Kirk to take and make a game-tying 3-pointer with 10.2 seconds remaining.
"They took advantage of our mistakes and hit some big shots and found a way to win," said Smith of the Bears, who improved to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
The Mustangs led briefly in the overtime period, after a Sterling Barrett basket off a Xavier Scotton assist gave them a 54-53 lead with 2:28 to play. But Clark answered with back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a North Moore turnover to go ahead 59-54 with 1:49 remaining.
Chatham Central's poor free throw shooting -- the Bears made only 6 of 21 from the charity stripe -- allowed the Mustangs to stay in the game.
A crucial cog in North Moore's rebounding effort, which Smith called his team's best of the season, center Tyler Wallace made a pair of free throws with 7.7 seconds showing on the clock to close the deficit to 63-62. After Clark missed two free throws on the other end of the court, the Mustangs brought the ball back across midcourt and called timeout with 1.2 seconds remaining to set up a final shot.
The inbound pass went to Spivey, who lined up an open, if not off-balance, look that banged off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
"We drew up a play and executed it. The shot just didn't go down," said Smith. "It kind of hurts to be 0-2 in the conference right now, but with a big conference you've got some time to figure it out."
Spivey led the Mustangs with 18 points, including three 3-pointers. He hit a trey toward the end of the first quarter to get going, then scored 10 points in the second quarter, at one point scoring all seven points of a 7-0 North Moore run that gave the Mustangs a 23-18 lead.
The Mustangs took a 32-28 lead into halftime on the strength of back-to-back Trevor Farquahson baskets in the closing minute of the first half and opened the second half with a 7-3 run to extend the lead to 39-31.
But Chatham Central answered with a 9-0 run to end the third quarter ahead 40-39. North Moore answered right back with an 11-3 run to open the fourth quarter, taking a 50-43 lead on a pair of Jonathan Henley free throws with 1:22 to play in regulation.
The Mustangs committed 17 turnovers in the game, as compared to 19 for the Bears, and made 14 of 19 free throws.
Farquahson and Scotton each finished with 10 points for North Moore, and Corbin Brock and Wallace finished with nine apiece.
For Chatham Central, Kirk finished with 13 points, despite being blanketed by the Mustang defense for much of the game, and Haydan Burke added 12.
The Mustangs are back in action Tuesday at South Davidson.
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