BENTON — Overtime is typically a test of will and stamina, as those extra four minutes are usually when fatigue starts to set in. But instead of fatigue, it was all adrenaline for the McCracken County boys basketball team Monday night, as the Mustangs outscored Marshall County 11-0 in the extra period for a 64-53 road victory.
“It was all adrenaline at that point,” McCracken County junior Ian Hart said after the game. “You really want to get the win, so you have that extra level of energy at the end.”
McCracken senior Ian McCune missed a close-range shot just before the buzzer to end regulation, sending the game to overtime tied at 53-53. That’s when the Mustangs took over, and Hart had arguably the biggest shots of the game that essentially sealed the deal.
After junior Brant Brower connected on a pair of free throws, Hart made a layup to put the visitors up by four. That four-point margin grew to seven less than 20 seconds later when Hart got the ball in transition and converted a drive to the basket into a layup while drawing a foul, and he made the ensuing free throw.
“I just happened to be the one at the end to get the opportunity,” Hart said of his plays that helped decide the game. “It could’ve been anybody on our team. I was just in the right place at the right time, and I capitalized for our team.”
Two free throws each from Brower and senior Noah Dumas closed out the scoring, as the Mustangs’ defense held strong to shut out the Marshals in overtime.
“That adrenaline really makes you want to lock down,” Hart said. “We knew the game was tight and that we were going to miss shots because we were tired. So Coach Brower emphasized defense late, and we locked them down.”
McCracken head coach Burlin Brower praised the physical nature of Hart’s play.
“He’s playing so much more physical now, and that’s huge for us,” he said. “In our first three or four games, he wasn’t near as physical as I wanted him to be. But he played really, really well tonight and made some big plays for us.”
Hart finished the game with a team-high 16 points and joined Brower (15 points), Dumas (13) and McCune (10) in double figures for the Mustangs (4-3).
Marshall County (2-3) was led in scoring by seniors Zion Harmon (21 points), Brady Miller (9) and Kaden Driver (7).
Monday’s game was a rematch of last season’s Region 1 championship game, which McCracken won 43-42, and it was a fitting sequel in terms of competitiveness. The Marshals led 19-11 at the end of the first quarter and 30-25 at halftime before McCracken tightened up defensively to knot the score at 41-41 going into the fourth period.
A key in that third quarter was the Mustangs’ defensive play on Harmon, a prolific scorer for the Marshals. Dumas was tasked with guarding Harmon for much of the game and proved especially effective in the third quarter, holding him scoreless over those eight minutes.
Coach Brower described the victory as a “complete team win,” adding his players knew they had a reputation to protect.
“We’ve had 23 or 24 wins in a row in Region 1, and our kids know that, and they don’t want to be the ones to break that streak,” he said.
McCracken County 11 14 16 12 11—64
Marshall County 19 11 11 12 0—53
McCracken: Hart 16, Brower 15, Dumas 13, Ian McCune 10, Tilford 6, Blackwell 3, Jack McCune 1.
Marshall: Harmon 21, Miller 9, Driver 7, Smith 4, Schroader 4, Sedlock 4, Mills 2, Smith 2.