ANNA — In a rematch of a game Anna won four days prior at the Highway 5 Tournament, Leonard’s Tigers prevailed on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 40-34 — but they needed overtime to do it. Ultimately, the Class 3A Tigers, who had more than a couple of big bodies, went inside to 6-4, 235-pound football tight end Byron Bolin for six of Leonard’s eight extra-period points and the non-district win. Bolin finished with a game-high 17 points.
For Anna, guards Emmonte Davis, Noah Palshaw, Josh O’Bier and forward Lukas Peacock each posted a team-high six points.
Knotted at 32-all with 1.3 seconds left in regulation, the Coyotes (3-9) had a perfect play-call for their inbounds pass near midcourt — and they nearly executed it to perfection as well. Anna guard Bullet Geer lofted a pass to the far side of the basket to guard Gavin Reno — who had run open from the opposite corner after a screen — but Reno’s turn-and-shoot at the buzzer wouldn’t find home. The out-of-bounds chance was set up by Coyote guard Micah Cotton’s steal.
After Bolin opened the four-minute OT period with a layup, Peacock matched it underneath off a Reno assist. But that was it for Coyotes scoring. As the Tigers pulled away, Anna was stymied by two missed 3s and a traveling call.
Coyotes head coach Kyle Phifer said his team’s trouble began well before overtime. “We came out flat, scored 11 points in the first half. We didn’t have much ball movement. We got fortunate that they missed some shots and let us stay in the game. I kept thinking we were going to go on a run. But in the second half, it seemed like we couldn’t put back-to-back stops together.”
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” he added. “And the ball stayed on one side of the floor a lot. We didn’t get a reverse to the other side. Defensively, they got the ball inside a lot against us and were able to really hurt us. … You hope that we learn from it and move forward.”
The squads battled dead-even in the second and fourth quarters, with Leonard owning a 3-point edge after the first and Coyotes posting a 3-point advantage in the third. The Tigers led by as much as seven in the first half and five over the third and fourth frames. The Coyotes led twice in the fourth but never by more than three points.
Near the end of the third quarter, a straight-on 3 from Reno sent to the score to 23-all — the game’s first tie since 6-6 — and as the fourth frame began Anna grabbed its first lead on O’Bier’s corner trey. Davis then got busy from downtown, popping a 3 to put the Coyotes up, 29-28, with 3:35 left and another to tie it at 32 with 2:20 remaining.
From there, the teams parried for a final shot before Anna got its late chance in regulation.
In the first quarter, Leonard jumped out to a 6-0 cushion before Jaedin Victorian got the Coyotes on the board with a layup off Reno’s steal and assist. Palshaw followed with a 3 from the right side but Leonard’s Ronnie Hart answered with one of his own as the first-quarter buzzer sounded. The scoring tailed off more in the second frame with both teams managing five points each. The Tigers hit the break with a 14-11 lead.
Anna scorers: Emmonte Davis 6, Noah Palshaw 6, Josh O’Bier 6, Lukas Peacock 6, Gavin Reno 5, Bullet Geer 3, Jaedin Victorian 2.