Published Saturday, February 16, 2013
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Much like the rest of the Coweta County Middle School Athletic League’s boys basketball lineups during the 2013 season, the Smokey Road Wildcats hadn’t been able to figure out how to pull out a victory against unbeaten the Evans Cougars.
The Wildcats suffered a 19-point loss at midyear and were beaten by the Cougars again by nine to close the regular season schedule.
So heading into this year’s CCMSAL championship and facing top-seeded Evans for the third time on its home court, the Wildcats may have wondered if they’d ever get a chance to celebrate a win against their closest rivals.
They finally got it Friday with a thrilling 37-35 overtime victory to deny Evans its second straight CCMSAL title in what also became the second consecutive tournament to see an unbeaten top-seeded lineup be foiled come playoff time.
Jarrell Rosser finished with a team-high 14 points and teammate Nick Parks added 10 — including all eight of Smokey Road’s third-quarter total — to help the No. 2 seeded Wildcats, coached by Corey Searcy and Shawn Atkinson, pull off the upset in front of a packed gym at Evans Middle while completing an 9-3 championship season.
Scoring first and taking the tempo right to the Cougars on the boards to build on a 14-11 halftime lead, the Wildcats began the extra session the same way, scoring the first four points on A.J. Robinson’s steal at midcourt and a a jump shot by teammate Jarrrell Rosser to keep all the pressure on Evans (11-1).
In the end, the Cougars couldn’t execute down one with less than 30 seconds to play by allowing Smokey Road to run nearly the entire clock before deciding to foul with 1.9 left.
Rosser sank the last of his six points off free throws — on a night where the Wildcats were 15 of 21 from the line — and a desperation heave by Evans from nearly the length of the floor went wide of the rim to end a game between opposing players that could soon enough become teammates at nearby Newnan High.
(To view photos from this game, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports to view the Photo Gallery.)
Cougar point guard Josh Anthony, en route to a team-high 14 point effort of his own, managed to keep his team in the game after nearly single-handedly bringing Evans back from an early 20-13 deficit late in the third quarter. Evans finished with three more field goals than its opponent but struggled at the line, hitting 6 of 14 attempts in the game.
Anthony banked a 3-pointer coming off a previous free throw to pull Evans back to within one before Smokey Road’s bench called time. The Wildcats, though, were able to push the ball up the floor with the Cougars searching for a steal, protecting it long enough to have Evans’ strategy backfire.
It was a tough ending for the Cougars after fighting back from a seven-point deficit with three minutes left in the third quarter, with the tempo picking up offensively after each team managed just a single field goal in the second period.
While Parks helped push Smokey Road ahead with eight of his 12 points in the third, Anthony converted back-to-back layups to close a 6-0 Evans run over a span of a minute that pulled the Cougars back to within 20-19 late in the third. Klyndell Johnson’s spin move opened the spurt before Tyrell Harris helped convert a Smokey Road turnover by finding Anthony underneath.
Anthony then stole the ball off the ensuing Wildcat inbounds and scored to make it a one-point game.
Trailing 22-20 to open the final period, Evans kept its momentum with a 7-0 run, tying the game on Dre Parks’ 3-pointer and getting a pair of baskets in transition off missed attempts by Smokey Road.
The Wildcats, though, answered with a six-point outburst of their own in the final 2:32 of regulation to help force overtime, with Parks and Robinson sinking four consecutive free throws sandwiched in between Rosser’s steal and ensuing basket off an Evans inbounds pass.
SCORING SUMMARY – Smokey Road 37, Evans 35 (OT)
Smokey Road 10 4 8 7 8 — 37
Evans 8 3 9 9 6 — 35
Smokey Road (9-3) 37 – Travis Johnson 0 0-0 0, Delvontae Harris 0 0-0 0, Nick Parks 3 4-4 10, Jay Jones 0 4-5 4, A.J. Robinson 2 0-0 5, Jared Rosser 0 0-0 0, Deonte Terrell 1 1-3 0, Jarrell Rosser 4 6-9 14, Dezmin Fleming 0 0-0 0. Totals 10 15-21 37.
Evans (11-1) 35 – Josh Anthony 6 1-1 14, Tyrell Harris 0 2-4 2, Dre Parks 1 1-2 4, Klynell Johnson 3 0-0 6, Edward Frey 2 2-6 6, K.D. Satterwhite 0 0-0 0, Cedric Hall 1 0-1 2, Nick McCullough 0 0-0 0, Josh Thomas 0 0-0 0. Totals 13 6-14 35.