PLAS falters in OT

Published 9:55 pm Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Pike Liberal Arts boy’s basketball team let a late-fourth quarter lead slip through its fingertips Thursday, falling to Kingwood Christian 50-46 in overtime in the first round of the Elite Eight Tournament at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

Marquese Christian led the Patriots with 20 points on the afternoon. Rush Hixon chipped in with 19 points, including five 3-pointers.

After a slow first half that saw Kingwood Christian enter halftime with a 26-20 lead over Pike Liberal Arts, both teams came out hot in the third quarter, exchanging baskets.

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In the third quarter, the Patriots outscored the Lions 12-9 thanks to two 3-pointers from Hixon.

But Kingwood Chrstian clinged to its lead, which had dwindled to one point for much of the quarter.

To open the fourth quarter, Hixon struck again from behind the 3-point arc, this time giving the Patriots their first lead of the half at 35-32, but the Lions quickly responded, tying the game up at 35-all early in the fourth.

With just under three minutes to go, Pike Liberal Arts took its biggest lead of the half at 40-36 following a 3-pointer and free throw from Christian.

But the Patriots couldn’t hold on to the lead, allowing Kingwood Christian’s Reggie Mann to sink a 3-pointer with 29 seconds to play, tying the game at 43.

With seconds left, Hixon threw up a desperation half-court shot that barely missed its mark, clanging off the backboard.

In overtime, Kingwood Christian took over, outscoring Pike Liberal Arts 7-3.

The Lions’ Jojo Ransom was big in the extra period, scoring five of Kingwood Christian’s seven points.

Hixon and Christian, who had scored all but four of the Patriots’ points in regulation, managed just two and zero points, respectively.

Mann led the Lions with 15 points, while Ransom added 13 points.

With the loss, Pike Liberal Arts’ season comes to an end, while Kingwood Christian moves on to the Final Four Tournament Feb. 11 at Huntingdon College.

“I was proud and I thought we played hard,” Pike Liberal Arts head basketball coach Gene Allen said. “We just missed a couple layups and missed a few free throws that hurt us down the stretch. I was proud with the way they came out and played. We knew we were against the odds there, but I was proud of the effort. We just have to learn how to close them out.”