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Hooker's buzzer-beating shot lifts Tigers over Black Bears, 62 - 61

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The game set up like it was scripted out of Hollywood. A veteran coach who is a local basketball hero brings his new team to the Region Tournament to take on his former team and it’s first-year head coach.

Of course, in Hollywood, the game would be a back-and-forth affair with the old veteran’s team hitting the winning basket at the buzzer. And for five seconds, it looked like that was just about how the game would end. The only problem, of course, is that somebody forgot to tell John Vernon Hooker and the Clay County Tigers about the script.

 

 

Following what appeared to be the winning basket by the Harlan County Black Bears with 0:05 left in the game, the Clay County Tigers took the ball the length of the court and got it in the hands of Hooker who sank the winning shot at the buzzer to lift the Tigers to a 62 – 61 victory.

The Tiger (22 - 9) and Black Bears (20 - 10) entered the contest with nearly identical records.

The two teams exchanged buckets for much of the first quarter with the Black Bears holding a slim 16 – 14 lead at the end of one period.

In the second quarter, the Tigers went ice cold and watched as the Black Bears opened up a double digit lead at 30 – 18 with just 0:34 left in the first half.

But the Tigers made the most of the final half-minute of the second quarter with Cody Roberts hitting a field goal and Tyler “Chip” McDaniel sinking 3-pointer to trim the Black Bears’ lead to 30 - 23 at the break.

In the second half, the Tigers came out on fire. Back-to-back 3s by Allen Whitaker, a 3-pointer by Codi Roberts and strong inside play by Adam Gay gave the Tigers a 2-point lead at 39 – 37 with 4:51 left in the third.

For the quarter, the Tigers outscored the Black Bears 22 – 12 to take a 45 – 42 lead, setting up a fourth quarter to remember.

The Tigers pushed the lead to 49 – 45 with 5:06 left in the game before the Black Bears got the hot hand to retake the lead at 53 – 51 with 3:37 left to play.

From there it was back-and-fourth between the two teams until a basket with 0:05 gave the Black Bears the 61 – 60 lead to set up the dramatic finish.

The Tigers quickly pushed the ball down the court and got it to Hooker, who, with ice-water running in his veins, took one last shot that left his hands with just a half-second left in the game. The ball found the net just as the buzzer sounded to give the Tigers the one-point victory.

“There’s been a lot of drama this year as a first year head coach,” said Tigers coach Robert Marcum. “WYMT was kind of like this, going down 17 – 0 and made all the records over there to come back and win the game, and then having to go the length of the court to win this one.”

“I don’t know how many years I can do this at this pace,” said Marcum, “but we’ll take it one game at a time and hopefully we can come out Saturday and put a solid game together against Corbin.”

Tigers—M. Mitchell 17, A. Whitaker 12, A. Gay 9, J. V. Hooker 8, C. Roberts 8, Z. McGeorge 3, T. McDaniel 3, S. Wagers 2

Black Bears—A. Sergent 25, T. Brewer 21, A. Caldwell 10, J. Bond 4, C Massingill 1

Tigers 14 9 22 17_62

Black Bears 16 14 12 19_61

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