MCDERMOTT — The Whiteoak Wildcats are going to the Convocation Center in Athens to participate in the D IV Southeast District Tournament after beating the Green Wildcats 59-56 in a wild, back and forth overtime game at Northwest High School on Tuesday.
The Wildcats won the opening tip of overtime and immediately took advantage when Traeten Hamilton finished an alley-oop from Hunter Ruckel, after Whiteoak was able to take more than a minute off the clock, to give the Wildcats a 54-52 advantage.
Following a layup by the Bobcats that tied the game at 54, Whiteoak’s Zach Rand and Ruckel combined for four consecutive free throws the last of which gave the Wildcats a 58-54 lead with 55 seconds to play in the overtime period.
A layup by Green with 26 seconds to play cut the Whiteoak lead to two points at 58-56 and a missed second free throw by Rand with 18 seconds to play added to the tension in the gym.
The final possession of the game saw Green attempt a three pointer at the buzzer that was no good and secured the hard fought 59-56 Sectional Final win for the Wildcats.
Whiteoak opened the scoring in the first quarter when Atlee Carr hit a three pointer with 7:18 on the scoreboard and Green answered a short time later with a layup to make it 3-2 with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.
Both teams went cold over the next two and a half minutes of play until Rand converted a driving layup while being fouled but he was unable to convert at the free throw line resulting in a 5-2 lead for Whiteoak with 3:58 to play in the opening period.
Back to back layups by the Bobcats propelled them into a brief 6-5 lead but Ruckel hit a three pointer 20 seconds later to immediately put the Wildcats back on top at 8-6.
Green tied the game at eight with under a minute to play in the first but, Ruckel hit a jumper with eight seconds to play and Ryan Roberts stole the ball and hit a layup at the first quarter buzzer to give Whiteoak a 12-8 lead as the teams prepared for the second quarter.
Green was able to better it’s first quarter scoring output in the second quarter by one point as they scored nine in the quarter.
Whiteoak continued to play well offensively with Ruckel and Roberts leading the way in the second quarter with a combined 12 points in the second quarter.
The final three points of the second quarter for the Wildcats came from Deavin Cumberland who hit a three pointer at the halftime buzzer that swirled around the rim before dropping and sent the Whiteoak crowd into a frenzy with Whiteoak leading 27-17 as the teams headed for the locker room.
The Bobcats outscored the Wildcats 23-15 in the third quarter and did the majority of the damage after the 3:38 mark of the quarter when Bradley Ashbaugh converted a fast break layup to push Whiteoak’s lead back to 10 points at 37-27.
From there the Bobcats outscored the Wildcats 13-5 and were leading 40-39 with six seconds to play but, Ashbaugh hit the third buzzer beater of the night for Whiteoak from beyond the three point line to put the Wildcats back on top 42-40 entering the fourth quarter.
Green continued to roll with the momentum in their favor and built a six point 48-42 lead with five minutes to play in the game.
Whiteoak maintained its cool under pressure and Ashbaugh hit two threes in the final three minutes while Rand added one of his own as the Wildcats fought back and tied the game at 52 apiece of the last of the three pointers by Ashbaugh with 1:31 to play.
Both teams had opportunities over the final 1:30 but neither were able to convert and the buzzer sounded with the score knotted at 52 to set up the overtime period.
Score by quarters
WHS 12-15-15-10 OT-7
GHS 8-9-23-12 OT-4
Whiteoak: Ashbaugh 1(3)-11; Cumberland (1)-3; Hamilton 2-3/4-7; Roberts 3-0/1-6; Ruckel 4(2)-5/5-19; Carr (1)-3; Rand 2(1)-3/7-10
Green: Blizzard 3-0/1-6; Sampson 6-2/2-14; Kimbler 1-3/5-5; Huffman 1-2; Carver 7(4)-3/4-29
Ryan Applegate is the Sports Editor for The Times-Gazette. Reach Ryan Applegate at 937-402-2572, or on Twitter @RCApplegate89.