Cassville falls in OT thriller
The Billings Wildcats squeezed out a 74-69 overtime victory over Cassville on Thursday night to earn the third place trophy at the Southwest Holiday Tournament. Billings scored seven of its 11 overtime points from the free throw line to secure the win in the most exciting game of the tournament.
Both teams took the floor with something to prove on the tourney's final night. Cassville ran into a buzz saw with defending champion Pea Ridge (Ark.) in the semifinals, losing by double digits, while Billings lost to a hot Purdy team in their semifinal pairing.
Billings held a slim 18-16 lead after one period of play then held Cassville scoreless for two and a half minutes of the second quarter while opening a 24-16 gap. Trenton Dickinson's team responded with a 13-3 run to finish the half, and Cassville owned a 29-27 lead at intermission.
Poor free-throw shooting kept the black and gold 'Cats from a bigger lead. Cassville converted only three of eight attempts from the line in the first half.
In the third quarter, Cassville stretched the lead to 40-31 on Axl Larson's free throws with 4:29 on the clock. The lead shrank to 44-41 as the period ended, but Evan Stubblefield finished a fast break with a lefthanded lift in the lane at the 4:39 mark to set the margin at 52-45.
Cassville's advantage became eight with a pair of Trey Rose free throws just inside the two minute mark of the final period.
But Cassville missed seven free throws in the fourth quarter to leave the door open for Billings, and the blue and white Wildcats pushed through for the late tie. Trailing 61-57, Billings reached a 61-61 draw when Kaleb Harter buried a trey and was fouled on the shot. Brady Chastain gave Billings a 63-61 lead with free throws in the final half minute, but Cassville's Axl Larson snared an offensive board and scored to send the game to overtime.
Stubblefield found Larson open for a fast break layup to open the extra period, but Cassville would not lead again in the contest. Billings carried away the third place trophy with the hard fought 74-69 victory.
Cassville scorers: Axl Larson, 21; Josh Lewright, 15; Chris Smith, 13; Ricky Nichols, 6; Evan Stubblefield, 6; Joel Maher, 5; and Trey Rose, 3.
Billings scorers: Kaleb Harter, 24; Austin Essik, 23; Brady Chastain, 18; Chad Yeokum, 4; Connor Jennisch, 4; and Lane Truman, 1.