Lake Belton made a furious fourth-quarter rally, forcing overtime with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end regulation, but ultimately fell short to Manor New Tech, 79-76, in a non-district boys basketball game Saturday at Bronco Gym.
Down nine entering the fourth after starting the game slow, the Broncos (10-6) exploded for 29 points in the final frame, including a well-executed, full-court in-bounds play with 4.5 seconds left to force the extra frame.
After a timeout, Peanut Brazzle threw a half-court pass to Micah Hudson, who gathered it and held off his defender before scoop-passing to a trailing Easton Hammond for a long 3-pointer from the left side just before time expired, tying the game at 71.
The shot drew a loud reaction from the home side, but the momentum wasn’t enough to carry Lake Belton through overtime, as New Tech’s (11-5) Houston Ifah — who drew his fourth foul with 5:30 left in the third — scored six points in overtime to help the Titans hold on for the win in a game they led most of the way.
“They did it exactly like we drew it up. It was good,” Lake Belton head coach Zane Johnston said of Hammond’s game-tying shot. “You never know if they’re going make the shot but they ran the play and executed it and gave us a chance. It’s nice to see something you draw up work every now and then.”
After a Brazzle free throw cut the gap to 77-76 with 1:09 left in OT, Lake Belton got a stop and then a good look from Devin Gossett on a drive down the left side with 42 seconds left, but the shot didn’t go down.
Ifah (15 points, seven rebounds, three blocks) then drained two free throws with 26 seconds left to push the gap back to three.
On the next possession, the Broncos looked to Selman Bridges down low for a quick bucket out of a timeout, but Bridges and Hudson each missed close shots as the loose ball rolled out of bounds with 2.9 left. Brazzle got off a 3 from near the same spot as Hammond’s in regulation, but the shot hit long off the back rim to end things.
“They finally decided to play the way that they’re capable of playing,” said Johnston, whose team trailed by as much as 15 in the first quarter, but trimmed it back down to five by the start of the second, then went down by as much as 12 in the second before again getting it down to five by halftime.
“It shouldn’t take four quarters to get to that point and I had that fear coming in that we weren’t ready to play,” Johnston continued. “It’s a trap coming in, the last game before Christmas, and we talked about it. We didn’t come out and try to change that. We played slow and undisciplined and I hate to use the word soft, but soft in the first three quarters, until we finally got in that fourth quarter and there was a sense of urgency.”
The Broncos fell down by their largest margin at the 2:05 mark of the third after Manor New Tech’s Justus Edwards found Asad Carrington on the left block for a layup and a 51-34 lead.
But Lake Belton scored the period’s final eight points to get back within single digits to start the fourth, when it used some different full-court press looks to cause a few New Tech turnovers that led to quick points as the Broncos hit 11 of 20 shots from the field in the final period.
While the Broncos executed well late, it was New Tech’s early poise that led to its quick advantage.
“Were a senior-laden group and being in games like this for the past few years with this group, we finally learned how to turn a corner and be able to hold a lead and play good defense down the stretch,” said New Tech head coach Kenneth Young, whose team was led by Kome Harris’ 20 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Ifah and Jaquille Rosario with 15 apiece.
“We’ve had a lot of tight games this year and we’ve came out on top in most of them, so it’s good to get another one here,” Young continued. “We were able to knock down some shots early in the game and kind of get the momentum going and that helped us down the stretch.”
Edwards added 10 points, six assists and five steals for New Tech.
Lake Belton was paced by Gossett’s 22 points, while Christopher Jarrett followed with 13 and Bridges netted 12. Hudson had a team-high eight rebounds for the Broncos, who were playing without leading rebounder Javeon Wilcox, who was resting a slight ankle injury.