CLAYTON — In a game filled with momentum, swings, pushing and shoving, a pair of technical fouls and drama galore, Northmont saw a 17 point lead gradually erode under a ferocious Wayne rally with the game going into overtime to determine the victor.
The Thunderbolts managed to hang on for a one point victory, 81-80, to improve to 9-2 overall while Wayne fell to 7-2.
The final was especially sweet for Northmont’s seniors, who beat Wayne for the first time in their high school careers.
Christian Wilson led the Thunderbolts with 20 points, 11 alone in the third quarter, to finish as one of four Northmont players in double figures. Rodney Richardson had 18, DaLonte Capers 12 and Vinson Walker 10 points to round out a balanced attack.
L’Christian Smith scored a game-high 28 points to lead Wayne. Isaiah Trice had 15, Deshon Parker 14 and Ray James 11.
Wilson’s 11 point third quarter performance gave the Thunderbolts a solid 58-46 lead entering the fourth quarter, but Wayne’s swagger kicked in during the final eight minutes of play and Northmont began to feel the heat. Ray James scored nine points in the final period and L’Christian Smith 10 to power the Wayne rally. Deshon Parker buried a 3-pointer to cut Northmont’s lead to 64-61 with 3:22 remaining and another trey at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, 74-74.
Vinson Walker scored five of his 10 points in the overtime period and Arius Spears had one basket. The game came down to free throws. Walker hit one of two from the charity stripe with just over eight seconds left to put the Thunderbolts 81-79. Parker went to the free throw line with about two second left and sank his first shot, but missed the second shot as Northmont escaped with the one point victory.
When asked if he expected Northmont to have such a balanced attack, Wayne Coach Travis Trice cast that aside and said he knew the game would be a tough one.
“I didn’t really think about whether it was going to be balanced scoring or not. I knew they had some really good guards and some bigs that could finish,” Trice said,. “They played extremely hard and got off to a great start and shot the ball extremely well early on and we had to play catch up. We expended a lot of energy and still had opportunities and took the lead, but we made some bad plays down the stretch and they took advantage of it.”
Wilson picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter and went to the bench. His absence help Wayne begin to chip away at the Thunderbolts’ lead. Wilson came back into the game and sank a pair of free throws with 10.5 second left to give Northmont a 74-71 lead, but Parker’s 3-pointer sent it into overtime.
No doubt the fatigue of the hard fought game contributed to Parker missing the critical second free throw at the end of the game. But no matter how you win against a tough opponent like Wayne, any team will take it.
Still exhausted from leaving all on the court, Wilson was a man of few words after game.
“I just hit the shots when I had to,” he said. “I just tried to knock them down and settle down. I just had to get a bucket for my team so I could put us up. I was in takeover mode. It’s been four years. It’s been a long time coming to beat them for this group of seniors.”
Northmont Coach Collin Abels was also drained by the big win, but he was on cloud nine after seeing his seniors step-up in such a big game.
“It had to be a tremendous game to watch. I don’t how much fun it was on the bench until the very end when we had one more point than they did,” Abels said. “I am just as proud as can be of our kids and our senior class. When you have four seniors in double figures and a fifth one with eight points, I mean, you need your seniors to play big in big games. They showed great leadership by getting the tough rebounds and key free throws. When we got that big lead I knew that Wayne is too good of a team with too good of a coach to lay down. Credit to them. They made some plays and hit a big shot to send it into overtime but I’m just proud that our kids made one more big play than they did.”
WAY 11 24 46 74 80 – 80
NMT 18 34 58 74 81 – 81
Wayne: Isaiah Trice 15, Deshon Parker 14, Chandler Fointno 6, Ray James 11, L’Christian Smith 28, Ronnie Hampton 2, Rashad McKee 4. Totals: 29-16-80.
Northmont: Jabari Perkins 6, Rodney Richardson 18, Christian Wilson 20, Vinson Walker 10, Arius Spears 8, Tyree Trammell 2, Donavin Wallace 5, DaLonte Capers 12. Totals: 31-12-81.
3-point goals: Wayne 6 (Parker 2, Trice, James, Smith, McKee); Northmont 7 (Perkins 2, Wilson 2, Richardson, Spears, Wallace).
Records: Wayne 7-2, Northmont 9-2.