HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Lake Hamilton coach Scotty Pennington found it hard to believe his basketball team had just overcome a 26-point deficit in the second half Wednesday to beat Vilonia in overtime, 64-63, at the 5A Boys State Basketball Tournament.
“This is absolutely the best come-from-behind game of my nineteen year coaching career,” said Pennington. “We play zone defense at Lake Hamilton, because it fits our personnel. We don’t ever press, but our hand was forced in the second half today. This is hard to believe because we don’t even practice pressing. This means Coach Pennington is stupid, but his kids baled him out.
“The kids made this happen. They were relentless, and got after them. Ty Robinson didn’t play like a freshman, and Zac Pennington (coach’s son) didn’t play like a sophomore. They played like seniors, and made big shots to get us back into the game.”
Vilonia led 36-19 at halftime
The Wolves trailed 36-19 at halftime, and 52-34 going into the fourth quarter after trailing by 26.
The elder Pennington simply told his players to play hard, press and don’t quit. It didn’t hurt that four players combined for six of the Wolves’ 12 treys in the fourth quarter.
“When Vilonia was so far ahead, I was thinking of what it was going to be like in the dressing room if we got beat bad,” said Zac Pennington, who scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and overtime. We talked at halftime about the girls win Tuesday when Greenbrier had a big rally in the second half. We felt if we play harder than them it would give us a chance. When there was about three minutes left, the margin was six points. We started believing we can do this.”
Lake Hamilton actually had a chance to win the game in regulation, but missed a shot with one second left. Ty Robinson hit a short jumper and added two free throws for his 25th point of the game in OT. Chase Jessup’s layup had the Wolves leading 62-61 with 8.7 seconds left in overtime. The Eagles called a timeout to set up a shot.
Wolves had chance to win in regulation
A pass was lofted up to 6-5 Gram Middleton for an easy two points, and Lake Hamilton called timeout with 6.8 reading on the clock. Pennington got the inbounds pass, took three or four dribbles and passed to senior Cade Robinson, who turned and collided with a Vilonia player. A foul was called on the Eagle with 0.3 left. Robinson needed to sink the first free throw for the win, and he did.
“I felt good about making the first free throw,” said Cade. “I wanted to miss the second one so they couldn’t get a shot off.”
Austin Myers led the Eagles’ scoring attack with 19 points before getting in foul trouble. Middleton and freshman Dashun Spence added 12 points each.
The Wolves next test will be No. 1 Parkview on Friday at 1 p.m. Parkview routed Greene County Tech in its first game Monday, 80-38.