TUSHKA – The McMichael brothers played the roles of Batman and Robin in the fourth quarter and overtime Thursday night as the dynamic duo combined to rally Caddo from a double-digit deficit to a thrilling 77-73 overtime win over Tushka in the Class 2A Regional Tournament.
Caddo girls’ comeback bid was halted early in the final period however as Tushka was able to pull away for a 47-37 victory in the girls contest to take the rubber game of the season series.
The Caddo boys and Tushka girls advance on to Saturday night’s regional title tilts at Canadian while the Lady Bruins and Tigers face elimination in games tonight at Canadian as well as the regional tournament continues.
In a contest in which the scoring leaders for each team virtually offset each other, it was Tushka’s unheralded junior Grace Wall that proved to be the difference.
The Lady Tiger post controlled the paint, especially in the early stages, and then came up with key points when her squad needed them to fuel the victory that saw 11th rated Tushka improve to 25-2 on the season.
Wall finished with 12 points along with 10 rebounds to key the attack.
“Grace was definitely a difference maker tonight for us,” Tushka head coach Lori Ford said. “She hit the boards hard and they didn’t have an answer for her much of the night. We’re tough to defend when she is playing well inside along with our shooters on the perimeter.”
Tushka built an early 10-2 lead that proved to be critical, largely behind the play of Wall, who scored six of those points inside.
Senior Jaylee Eaves grabbed a big part of the scoring load in the second stanza, notching her team’s first six points of the quarter (four of which came after steals) as they had a 19-11 lead following a Ryann Cochran trey midway through the frame.
Caddo rallied to within 21-17 just a minute from the halftime after five straight points by Alli Adair but the hosts closed on a 4-0 run, including a bucket from Eaves at the horn for an eight-point Tushka advantage.
“I thought we played a little tight early,” Ford stated. “We loosened up though and made some adjustments. I thought we penetrated very well after that.”
The lead expanded to as much as 14 points behind the one-two punch of Eaves and Cochran in the third period but Caddo would respond.
Adair scored six consecutive points, including a three-point bomb that trimmed the margin to 34-25.
It was down to just seven following a trey and layup off a steal by Caddo’s Brittney Miller to open the final quarter but that’s when Wall went back to work offensively with four straight and the Lady Bruins weren’t able to get any closer down the stretch.
Three Lady Tigers reached double figures with Cochran tossing in 16 and Eaves 13 along with Wall’s 12. Alissa Kindred scored four and Lauren Hauff added two for Tushka.
Caddo got a game-high 18 points from Adair along with 12 from Miller but no other Lady Bruin reached double figures. Kynsey Dixon posted five and Kacie Clower had two.
“I really think our chemistry is the best it has been all season long,” Ford added. “And that’s what you are looking for at this time of year.”
Tushka looked firmly in command most of the way while building a double-figure lead on a couple of occasions but Caddo was able to hang in there.
The Tigers were up 15-11 after one and 35-27 at intermission thanks largely to a three-point barrage that was spearheaded by Marcus Hampton, who drained four triples all in the first half.
It was a 49-37 edge with 1:39 left in the third following a Zach Dill bucket before Caddo showed a glimpse of things to come as K.W. Adair and Gage McMichael drilled back-to-back treys.
Tushka had the answer though with three-pointers from Connor Sutton and Dill to close the frame with a 55-45 advantage.
The lead was still 11 early in the fourth when Caddo began clawing back.
Daniel Stone connected inside and Garrett McMichael scored two straight layups after steals. A Gage McMcMichael three moments later had the lead quickly down to 57-54.
Garrett McMichael then scored two straight trips down the floor, capitalizing on another Tushka miscue to take the first lead of the game for Caddo at 58-57.
The advantage then see-sawed back and forth with Garrett McMichael trading baskets with Dill and Dillon Mansell on three straight possessions.
Tushka looked like it might be able to hold on, grabbing a 63-61 edge on a Mansell bucket with 1:31 to play before regaining possession and milking almost a minute off the clock.
The Tigers however could not close it out at the charity stripe, missing three crucial tosses down the stretch to leave at only a 64-61 advantage.
That’s all the opening Caddo needed as the Bruins ran an inbounds play to perfection for Gage McMichael, who drilled a deep trey with nine seconds left to send the Caddo faithful into a frenzy.
“We have two or three plays we’ve worked on before in that situation but that one we just happened to work on today in practice,” Caddo head coach Kolby Johnson said. “And he drilled it.”
Tushka still had a chance to win in the waning second but two misses around the basket sent the game to overtime.
The lead once again went back and forth before a Gage McMichael trey and conventional three-point play from Garrett McMichael put Caddo in front to stay at 70-68.
A Tushka turnover gave the ball back to the Bruins and they were money at the free throw line over the final minute, sinking seven of eight to ice the win.
Garrett McMichael finished with 25 points to pace Caddo, which got strong efforts as well from Adair with 16 points, Gage McMichael with 15 and Kaden Johnson adding 12. Stone also chipped in seven and Payton Brewer scored two.
Dill led all scorers and fueled Tushka with 31 points. Mansell contributed 18 with Hampton contributing 12. Sutton finished with seven and Shelby Milam had five.
“I didn’t think we defended their dribble penetration well at all in the first half,” Coach Johnson commented. “We’ve played from behind a lot this year so there is definitely no quit in them.
“We played from behind for so long tonight that once we finally got ahead you felt like things were finally going our way. All five of our starters on the floor came up with big contributions in the comeback.”
Contact Kevin Farr at 580-634-2161 or firstname.lastname@example.org