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East Oktibbeha boys nip Hinds AHS 52-51

February 15, 2012

(FILE) – Chris Harris led East Oktibbeha with 19 points. (Photo by Kim Murrell, SDN)

CRAWFORD – For the second night in a row, the East Oktibbeha High School gymnasium featured an intense fourth quarter.

The Titans came away with a 52-51 win over Hinds Agricultural High School Tuesday night in the first round of the South Class A playoffs.

With less than 4 seconds to go, the score was tied a 51 each. East Oktibbeha tired to inbound it to Chris Harris, but it bounced off the rim. Devontae Lucious was there to recover it and took it back up and was fouled.

He smoothly knocked down the first free throw to give the Titans a 52-51 lead. He missed the second one and the Bulldogs quickly called a timeout.

A half court 3-pointer fell off the mark and the Titan bench players rushed the floor to celebrate with the five that were left in to defend.

"That was the turning point of the game," East Oktibbeha head coach Barnett Robinson said of Lucious' free throw. "That was clincher for us."
The Bulldogs missed several free throws earlier in the fourth quarter that could have put them in the lead.

"They made free throws when it counted and we missed them," Hinds head coach Keith Williams said. "They got key rebounds when we should of had them. Made some unforced turnovers. That's the ballgame."

The Titans built a 29-19 halftime lead after they ended the second quarter with a 6-0 run.

Williams halftime speech was short and sweet.

"I just told them to play basketball," Williams said.

Robinson knew it was too early to name his team as the winner. His halftime speech emphasized focus and closing out strong.

"The game is not over with and we have to continue to play," Robinson said at halftime.

The third quarter saw the Bulldogs take a 38-35 lead after they closed the quarter out on a 12-2 run.

"These guys came in and they played their hearts out," Robinson said of the Bulldogs. "I told my team everybody that's here deserves to be here. There are no more weak teams. A No. 4 seed can beat a No. 1 seed and a No. 3 seed can beat a No. 2 seed. They came to play and I tip my hats to them."

The Titans opened the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run to regain the lead at 45-40, but Hinds had a 8-1 run of its own to tie it at 48 each.

"East Oktibbeha tradition-wise (is good) and they were geared up for us," Williams said.

The Titans took a 15-12 lead after the first quarter when Davalyn Bell knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"We played as a team," senior Titan Chris Harris said, who scored 19 points. "Coach says never give up. Go hard until zero hits the clock, so that's what we did. We got a little frustrated when they tied the game up, but in the huddle during the timeout, we got our minds back right and got it under control."
Robinson thought Harris was the difference in the game for the Titans.
"He stepped up big for us," Robinson said. "We got some key stops on defense but Chris was really the difference maker for us."

Along with Harris, Bell got in double digits with 12 points.

The Titans will be back in action Thursday when they travel to a site to be determined for the remainder of the Class A South State Tournament.

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