Watson Chapel had three goals going into the Zebra Invitational: limit turnovers, outrebound the opponent and hold the opponent to 50 points or less.
In a 59-56 loss to Tulsa (Okla.) McLain on Thursday, the Wildcats came away with one goal met — they outrebounded the Titans 25-18. But coach Matt Busch cited the turnovers as the difference in the game.
“We lost by three. Imagine if you meet your goals, you win by 20,” Busch said. “I don’t know how good they are in Oklahoma, but that doesn’t matter. What really matters is, we’re still not doing what we’re supposed to do.”
The loss is the Wildcats’ second and it capped a first day of three-day round-robin event at Pine Bluff High in which saw both games come down to the final seconds. Thursday’s schedule was shortened to two games because Brinkley could not make it to Pine Bluff due to icy roads, and Pine Bluff elected to drop a game, leaving Dollarway and Dumas to play each other before Watson Chapel and McLain.
With Dollarway winning the first game 46-44 in overtime, the Wildcats and Titans had a tough act to follow. With more changes to the schedule, Dollarway and Watson Chapel will meet at 4:30 p.m. today, before Pine Bluff takes on McLain.
On Thursday, Watson Chapel (4-6) didn’t have a large lead to finish off the game with, but it nearly erased a 51-42 deficit with 3:49 remaining.
Ben Marcus completed a three-point play and, after a steal, scored on a putback to bring the Wildcats within 53-50. Soon, they found themselves down 59-52 with 26 seconds left, but Tevin Brown helped them respond with drives to the hole on back-to-back possessions.
McLain (7-2) committed a walking violation before Brown’s last basket and threw the ball away in transition with 3.5 seconds left, giving Watson Chapel a chance to tie. But Leonard Robinson’s three-point attempt from the left wing hit the rafters as time expired.
Jalen Courtney scored a game-high 23 points for Watson Chapel, including six unanswered in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 34-33 lead. He also had four rebounds.
“He had a good game here against Pine Bluff, and we really thought Jalen would be our guy,” Busch said. “We run a lot of stuff for him. He just hasn’t really been healthy. He’s been banged up with an ankle injury.”
The Titans won despite hitting only 16 of 49 from the field, including 1 of 16 from three-point range. The Wildcats were 13 for 38 from the field, 2 of 9 from the perimeter.
Watson Chapel overcame an early 11-2 deficit to finish the first quarter with a 13-11 lead. McLain went on a 6-0 run to go into halftime with a 26-23 lead and extended the margin to 29-23. It was 40-39 in McLain’s favor after three quarters.
“We were still in the Christmas spirit,” Busch said of the start. “They came out ready to go and it looked like we weren’t quite as ready.”
Charles Owens added nine points and Marcus eight for Watson Chapel. For McLain, Nigel Carter led with 18 points and Quentin Nails chipped in 14.
Dollarway 46, Dumas 44, OT
Eight days ago, it was a 63-39 home victory for Dollarway. On Thursday, it was a more exciting start to the Zebra Invitational.
Dumas’ Johnny Gibson tipped in an off-balance three-point attempt just before the final buzzer of regulation to send the game into overtime tied at 41, but Dollarway (9-1) did just enough in the extra 4 minutes to escape with its ninth consecutive win.
Dollarway’s Davonne Chapman scored 24 points to lead all scorers, including two straight baskets which tied the game at 38 late in regulation. He hit a go-ahead free throw at the 1:29 mark and Joshua Liddell scored off a steal by Kabion Ento with 1:08 left to put the Cardinals up by three.
Gibson then hit 1 of 2 free throws, and Dumas rebounded a missed Dollarway layup, setting up the game-tying play.
The Bobcats had two chances to win in the final 8.6 seconds after rebounding a missed free throw. Tev Buchanan’s three-point attempt sailed out of bounds with 2 seconds left, and after a missed 1-and-1, Mont’dre Spencer could not get a catch-and-shoot three to go in at the buzzer.
Martavian Ward led Dumas with 16 points.
Dumas will play Brinkley at 3 p.m. today.
Updated Zebra Invitational schedule
3 p.m. — Dumas vs. Brinkley
4:30 p.m. — Watson Chapel vs. Dollarway
6 p.m. — Pine Bluff vs. McLain
3 p.m. — Dollarway vs. McLain
4:30 p.m. — Dumas vs. Watson Chapel
6 p.m. — Pine Bluff vs. Brinkley