In what was a rowdy, playoff-like atmosphere, the Dickinson Gators survived a strong effort from the Clear Creek Wildcats and escaped Carlisle Field House on Friday with a 58-53 overtime win.
“In 24-6A, that’s the way the ball rolls,” Dickinson head coach Jason Wilson said. “Anybody can beat anybody on a given night. It’s going to come down to the wire, and we got a little (good) favor tonight.”
“We played our hearts out, but hats off to them; they came over here and took, probably, our best shot and won the game,” Clear Creek head coach Wes Bryan said.
Clear Creek, which had led pretty much the entire game, had a chance to ice the game with a 49-47 lead and 3.4 seconds left but missed two free throws.
As Dickinson sophomore point guard Tramon Mark (27 points, eight rebounds) dribbled down court for a desperation heave, the Wildcats made a mental error, committing an away-from-the-ball foul that sent Quante Julien (eight points) to the free throw line. The smallest guy on the court came up huge for the Gators, as the junior guard drained both free throws to send the game to overtime.
A corner 3-pointer by sophomore guard Deuce Guidry (nine points) to start the OT period gave Dickinson its first lead since a Mark 3-pointer gave the Gators an 8-6 advantage midway through the first quarter.
A step-back 3-pointer by senior guard Nate Jackson (16 points) got Clear Creek to within one point at 54-53 with 2:09 left in overtime, but Dickinson never allowed its lead to slip away, taking advantage of trips to the free throw line (6-for-8 in OT).
Sparked by a steal and thunderous dunk by senior post Donta Smith (16 points, 14 rebounds) and capped by a 3-pointer from Jackson, Clear Creek scored 11 unanswered points to close out the first quarter with a 17-8 lead.
The Wildcats then scored the first five points of the second quarter for their largest lead of the game at 22-8. The Gators began to slowly nibble away at that lead, and Clear Creek hit the locker room at halftime up, 32-25.
Clear Creek held a 40-34 lead with 1:49 remaining in the third quarter, but Dickinson went on a 7-2 run to close the period and get the Wildcats’ lead down to 42-41. Mark hit 7 of 8 free throw shots to account for all the Gators’ scoring during the key stretch that set up a tight, tense fourth quarter.
Dickinson held a decisive edge at the charity stripe, making 29 of 39 free throw attempts in comparison to Clear Creek, which finished 10-for-20.
Now in a four-way tie for first place in the district with Clear Creek, Clear Lake and Clear Springs, Dickinson’s (4-1 in District 24-6A) race for a playoff spot continues 7 p.m. Tuesday at Clear Falls (2-3).
Things don’t get easier for Clear Creek (4-1), as the Wildcats face rivals Clear Lake (4-1) on the road 7 p.m. Tuesday.