High School Basketball

Cougars fall short in OT in 3-AAAAAA boys final

by Doug Gorman

EAST POINT- Newnan's Cinderella run at the Region 3-AAAAAA boys basketball tournament reached midnight in overtime as a comeback effort by the Cougars against Douglas County came up short in a 81-75 during Tuesday's championship game at Tri-Cities High School.

Newnan's Doniel Dean hit a shot at the buzzer to send the game into overtime at 68-all after the Cougars trailed 42-28 at the half, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers pulled out a win for the first time in three meetings between teams this year.

Both lineups - who were coming off upset wins in Monday's semifinal round - traded baskets early in overtime with the lead changing three times before the Tigers put the game away. The efforts included the Cougars' stunning win over No. 1 seed Westlake, the state's No. 4 ranked boys team.

On Tuesday, No. 4 seeded Newnan nearly pulled off another stunning comeback while connecting on five 3-point shots, three from Diamond Jones as well as two from Dean, who finished with a team-high 28 points.

Jones added 17 points in the loss while Cougars center Immanuel Griggs had 12.

Brandon Robinson led No. 3 seed Douglas County with 19 points.

Despite finishing as the runner up in the Region 3-AAAAAAA Tournament, Newnan still earned homecourt advantage in the firstround of the state playoffs and will host No. 3 seed Coffee, out of Region 1-AAAAAA.

Tuesday's championship saw both Newnan and Douglas County needing clutch freethrow shooting just to send the game to overtime as both teams connected six times in the final minute of regulation.

Newnan set up its showdown in the title game thanks to a dramatic 59-58 upset over top-seed Westlake Monday, a team that had beaten the Cougars twice in the regular season and entered the postseason with just three losses.

Douglas County advanced to the title game wins over East Coweta last Saturday and Tri-Cities in the semifinals on Monday.

It was the second time, Newnan and Westlake had battled to the wire. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Lions knocked off the Cougars with a shot at the buzzer.

The Region 3-AAAAAA tournament was three days late getting started because of last week's ice storm, but it didn't take long for the Cougars to heat up, beating Langston Hughes on Saturday before pulling off a shocker against Westlake.

After Newnan took a 13-9 lead on a basket by Griggs, Douglas County started the first of its two comebacks going on a 9-2 run to close the first quarter.

The Tigers took over in the second quarter thanks to the play of Robinson who hit two 3-pointers in the period and scored 18 of his teams points in the first half.

Dean and Jones hit a 3-point each for the Cougars in the first half. Dean finished with 10 points in the first half.

His free throws with under a minute to go cut the lead to 51-46 before the Tigers increased the margin back to 54-48 heading into the final period.



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