Lewis hits desperation three to force overtime in 79-75 overtime AMC Tournament win over Williams Baptist
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Lewis pulled up at the top of the key with three seconds left, down 68-65, and ticked the back of the iron, forcing overtime and ultimately keeping the Pirates' season alive with a 79-75 win over Williams Baptist. Lewis finished with seven points and three Pirates found double figures, including Xavielle Brown, who posted a 19-point, 16-rebound double-double. Kyle Enloe's 17 points off the bench included five baskets from beyond the 3-point arc, and Denzell Cook finished with 15 points, including nine of Park's 11 in overtime.
"Sometimes you need luck, and we got a little of it at the end tonight," said Park coach Jason Kline. "We gave our fans every reason to sit on their hands or even leave the building in the second half, but credit them for making this a real home court tonight. They were a big part of this win."
Four Eagles found double figures, as WBC ended its season at 15-14, led by Tevin Howard's 17 points and 15 from E.J. Rucker. Tony Jeffries scored 15 for the Eagles, and James McClain finished with 13 and a 10-rebound double-double. Park outrebounded WBC 50-43, getting 10 boards from John Kotsanos, and in addition to his clutch three in regulation, Lewis had a game-high eight assists.
Park (17-11) didn't trail in the first half and the Pirates were up 10 with 2:52 before halftime, turning Jeffries' turnover in to a bucket by Kotsanos to make it 39-29. Park led 39-33 at the break, but that score was part of an 11-0 run for the Eagles, who led 40-39 on Rucker's basket with 17:17 left in regulation, following a block by Nigel Van Oostrum on Kevin Charles. Kam Ashabranner collected the rebound, though, giving the ball to Rucker for the score, and the Eagles constructed a double-digit lead over the next nine minutes.
Williams Baptist went up 58-48 with 9:40 left on Jeffries' basket from Howard, and Park didn't get back within a possession until 3:54 when Kotsanos scored to make it 63-60. Enloe scored with a minute left to make it a one-point game, and after Jeffries made two points out of a turnover to go up three, Lewis forced overtime in mid-air. Williams' half-court effort was wide left, and Cook struck first in overtime, in the paint, to make it 70-68.
The Eagles led once in the overtime period, 71-70 after a three by Charles, but Park had the next four points, all by Cook who made two foul shots and a 15-footer with 2:58 to play. Cook continued to take over the extra period with a one-point lead, going up 77-73 with a 3-pointer at 2:03, and two free throws by Brown in the final minute sealed it, sending Park in to the AMC semifinals for the fifth-straight season.
The win also kept Park perfect at Breckon Sports Center in the AMC tournament all-time, a 7-0 record since rejoining the league in 2009-10, and the Pirates' last conference-tournament loss in Parkville was in the 1998 season, an 87-77 loss to Hannibal-LaGrange that sent both teams to the NAIA National Tournament, where Park advanced to its only Fab Four in school history.
"I'm proud of the fact that our guys never said die tonight," Kline said. "We didn't deserve to win, but sometimes you do get one like that, especially in the postseason. Columbia is an incredibly tough opponent, and they don't lose many games at the Southwell Complex. We will have to execute, rebound, and defend better than we have all year to win over there Saturday."
Columbia, ranked No. 4 in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches Top 25 Poll, ran away from William Woods on the way to a 79-65 win, improving to 29-2. The Cougars' only losses this season are to Freed-Hardeman and Benedictine (Kan.), and Saturday's semifinal game, which will air on the Pirate Sports Network, begins at 4 p.m.