Tri-Cities strategy coming into Saturday’s Region 5-AAAAAA Tournament consolation finals game was to stop Alexander senior Chris Lunsford from taking control of the game.
The Bulldogs threw a box-and-one defense on the all-region guard in an attempt to stop him.
With Lunsford held to only eight points, sophomore Jaylon Brown stepped up to produce 20 points as the Cougars got a 70-58 overtime win over Tri-Cities to secure the No. 3 seed in next week’s playoffs.
“Bama (Lunsford) has had some good games against them, and obviously the idea was to stop him,” Alexander coach Jason Slate said. “It was a good idea and it sort of bothered us at first. We were doing a lot of standing around at first. Once we started running our offense, it started to work.”
But it was the Cougars defense that should be credited for winning the game in the overtime period.
Alexander held Tri-Cities scoreless in the extra quarter for the win. During the overtime period, Cougars junior center Brady Spence scored six points to pace the team to the win.
Sidni White scored a layup for the first basket in the overtime period and the Cougars were literally unstoppable.
“We had seven defensive stops in overtime,” Slate said. “I’m really proud of my guys for stepping up after we let them back into it.”
Spence finished with 16 points and White had 10 points to go with Brown’s 20 points to pace the team. Lunsford finished with eight points on the evening.
Tri-Cities was led by all-region forward Eli Lawrence, who had 16 points. Peyton Daniels finished with 12 points.
“I’m proud of the way my teammates stepped up and took control,” Lunsford said. “It was definitely our defense that came through for us. I just let my teammates do what they do.”
Spence hit a layup to put the Cougars up 56-53 with 1:28 remaining after Tri-Cities missed a break away layup.
Daniels connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56-56 with 1:16 remaining.
Lawrence would miss the fronted of a one-and-one situation before White connected on a pair of free throws as the Cougars took a 58-56 lead with 28 seconds remaining.
Daniels missed a 3-pointer with 16 seconds remaining but the Bulldogs got the ball back on a turnover.
Eric McNary hit a short jumper to send the game into overtime after Brown missed a desperation jumper at the buzzer.
The previous night Alexander lost to Douglas County before a packed gym to send the Cougars to a third-place game.
“This was definitely a tough game to play after coming off (Friday),” Slate said. “To comeback and play this type of game is a testament to our kids. I’m definitely proud of them.”