Without being asked, Watson Chapel coach Matt Busch said he still believes Demetrius Dukes’ hook shot at the end-of-regulation buzzer should have counted.
Had it, the shot would have capped a dramatic comeback against the 5A-East Conference champion to start the 5A boys state tournament. Instead, Beebe overcame a 16-minute stretch with only two field goals made and denied the hometown favorite the upset, winning 53-50 in double overtime Tuesday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center.
It’s the second straight year Beebe defeated Watson Chapel in the first round.
“I still believe we won the game at the end, but they called a no-shot,” Busch said. “I don’t know how you can make the call, but you know what? We played hard. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s not the officials’ fault. It’s not our kids’ fault. We played about as good as we could. A lot of kids stepped up and did what we asked of them.”
Beebe (21-6) had Watson Chapel (13-13) down 23-11 with 4:30 left in the second quarter, but the Wildcats rode the strong inside play of junior Ben Marcus to pull within 26-20 at halftime and trailed 35-32 after three quarters. Marcus had eight of his team-high 17 points in the second quarter.
“I just needed to play big,” said Marcus, who also had nine rebounds. “Coach told me before the game they would be bigger than me. I had to be ready to play bigger than anyone who was bigger than me.”
The Wildcats held the Badgers to one point in the fourth quarter and tied it at 36 after a Dukes putback and two Jalen Courtney free throws with 2:57 left. Coming out of a delay offense with about 20 seconds left, Beebe’s standout 6-foot-4 senior forward, Austin Burroughs, committed an offensive foul on his way to the basket.
That gave Watson Chapel an opportunity for the upset. But SanAntonio Cole missed a pull-up jumper, Beebe’s Tanner Chapman lost the ball in the backcourt after the rebound, and Dukes picked up the loose ball for his buzzer-beater attempt — only to see it waived off, with no television replay to review the shot.
The call did not slow down the Wildcats any.
“We just had to keep going,” Marcus said. “We couldn’t let that one call stop us from our goal.”
Both teams traded a basket each early in the first overtime, but they struggled to convert field goals after patiently running their offenses for quality shots. Tevin Brown knocked down two free throws to give Watson Chapel a 40-38 lead with 45.5 seconds left, but Chapman answered with a jumper 16 seconds later.
Cole again had the ball in the final seconds, but with no timeouts left, Beebe’s man-to-man defense forced him into a 5-second violation near the half-court line with 8 seconds remaining. After Brown committed a foul to give, Chapman threw the ball out of bounds on a busted alley-oop play, costing Beebe an opportunity.
The second overtime belonged to the Badgers. Burroughs, who finished with a game-high 20 points, converted a second-chance basket and Chapman drove for a layup off a steal to give Beebe a 44-40 lead. It was 48-40 after Chapman hit 1 of 2 at the line and 6-foot-6 Zach Baker completed a three-point play.
After Courtney hit a three, Beebe hit 5 of its last 6 free throws in the final 71 seconds. Watson Chapel got within 52-45 on a Brown layup and 52-48 on a Marcus three-point play after a Beebe turnover. Marcus made a putback with 2 seconds left for the final margin.
Burroughs scored 10 points as part of a key 12-0 run that gave Beebe a 19-8 lead early in the second quarter. Watson Chapel responded with a 7-0 run, counting on Marcus to challenge the much bigger Badgers inside the paint.
It worked as Watson Chapel had as many rebounds as Beebe in the first half (eight).
“I felt like in the first half, they were having their way with us a little bit,” Busch said. “As far as offensively, we ran a lot of sets. We knew them all, but we didn’t do a good-enough job of consistently stopping them. So, we went to the trap and tried to press up a little bit and slow them down, and that’s what it obviously did.”
Beebe coach Ryan Marshall said tiredness and poor shot selection led the Badgers’ scoring drought down the stretch.
“Some of our kids hadn’t been off the floor,” he said, “and they’re (Watson Chapel) extremely athletic. They were beating us to spots. I feel like they were outhustling us for a big stretch of the game.”
Marcus had five rebounds on offense and finished with two steals. Courtney totaled with 14 points and Brown, who was scoreless in the first half, added 12 points.
“We ask a lot out of Tevin,” Busch said. “He always comes through. Good kid, plays hard, probably wants to win more than I do. Jalen’s a scorer and did a good job making some baskets to keep us in it.”
Chapman scored 13 points and Baker finished with nine.
Watson Chapel shot 9 of 10 in free throws. Beebe converted 12 of 18.
Beebe will play today’s Harrison-Pulaski Academy winner at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.