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Originally published: 2013-01-23 15:07:25
Last modified: 2013-01-23 15:08:24

Eight overtime marathon

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

It took St. Stephens two full games to beat Watauga 103-98 at Lentz-Eggers Gym Tuesday night.

A full game consists of four eight-minute quarters. Watauga and St. Stephens needed eight four-minute overtime periods of free basketball to settle their result Tuesday. The eight extra periods are not a state record. That mark is 13 overtimes set in 1964 when Boone Trail beat Angier 56-54 in a game played at Campbell College. That is also the national record.

It was Watauga’s fourth overtime game of the season. The Pioneers lost to Hickory and Wilkes Central in overtime periods, but beat Alexander Central in single overtime periods.

There was little doubt that any of those games would reach a second extra period, let alone eight.

“It was a fan favorite and a coach’s nightmare, that’s for sure,” Pioneers coach Rob Sanders said. “You have so many opportunities throughout the game to seal the deal and put the game away. One thing here and one thing there, a call one way or another, you hit some free throws and I just could not believe that we’d have a two-point or a four-point lead and in a blink of an eye, the game’s tied back up.”

But eight overtimes set a Watauga record and were enough to keep two tired basketball teams playing until 11 p.m. Fans and players can thank DeWayne Mackey for draining a 3-point shot with 4.5 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 57-57 and sending it into the first overtime.

Watauga extended the game in four of the overtimes, while St. Stephens did the same for three. Jay Harrill scored the first two points of the eighth overtime, but St. Stephens scored the final seven points of the period to pull away from the victory.

“Both teams showed a whole lot of grit and a whole lot of heart,” St. Stephens coach Murphy Post said “Once you get through eight overtimes, that’s all you’ve got left. Your body starts to fail you and your mind has to lead the way.”

Harrill kept the game going in the third overtime by hitting a clutch jump shot off an Eli Gailes assist with 5.8 seconds left that tied the game 75-75. The game kept going on for so long that the opposing players seemed to be joking with each other with each jump ball to start the latter overtime periods.

As expected, the stats of the game grew as the game continued. Watauga was whistled for 34 fouls. Three Pioneers —Cam Baker, Ben Houser and Mackey — fouled out.

“You can never get tired of the game,” Baker said. “Everybody on this team loves playing the game, so no matter how many overtimes we go into, we know that you can never get tired. You have to keep playing and keep playing because we know that our teammates are going to need us and our coaching staff is going to need us.”

Howser managed to finish with 29 points before he fouled out in the fifth overtime period. Baker collected 26 points and pulled down 18 rebounds before he fouled out with 26 seconds left in the final overtime.

And on top of all that, Watauga plays at Hibriten tonight.

“Coach (Sanders) always preaches that we have to have mental toughness, and you have to have mental toughness to go through eight overtimes,” Baker said. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to end. We have to bounce back strong playing back-to-back games. It’s like we play three games in two days.”

Mackey, who extended the game into a third overtime by scoring the final two points in the second, finished with 11 points. He fouled out in the third overtime.

St. Stephens got 35 points from guard Karigan Farley and 20 from Logan Starkey, who made five 3-point baskets. Zach Houston added 15. St. Stephens was called for just 17 fouls, and none of the Indians fouled out of the game.