The Dickinson Gators gave it all they had, but in the end fell prey to clutch baskets by Alief Taylor late in the game to be eliminated from the Region III-6A playoffs in overtime, 54-52, on Tuesday night at Dawson High School.
Five foot, nine inch Lions guard Kavin Ezekwe slashed his way inside to send the game into overtime, and his bruiser teammate Joe Ogunbanjo won the game coming from the weak side to put back a shot as the clock expired.
Highly talented Gators sophomore Tramon Mark, who averaged 18.8 points on the season, was held to just 11 points and did not hit his first field goal until late in the fourth quarter.
His first field goal came at the right time, closing a three-point Lions lead to just one, 45-44.
Mark hit his second field goal in quick succession, again closing a three-point lead to just one, as the Gators trailed 47-46 with just under three minutes to play.
Gators senior Nathan Randle tied the game at 47-47, hitting on one of two free throws with 1:43 left.
Another Dickinson trip to the line, yielded the same 50 percent result, with senior Montel Parker hitting another one for a 48-47 lead with 44.6 seconds left.
Mark was fouled to stop the clock with 6.8 seconds remaining, but the late free throw woes continued with Mark hitting just one of two again, for a 49-47 lead, setting up Ezekwe to tie the game.
Dickinson built an early three-point lead in overtime and then chose to eat some clock until Ezekwe hit another clutch shot, this time a 3-pointer from straight away, to tie the game 52-52, with just under two minutes left.
Dickinson had possession with 16.3 left, but a turnover out of bounds gave the ball back to Taylor with 12.3 seconds left.
Ezekwe drove the paint again, this time dishing out a pass to forward Josh Akpan, who missed the shot, but a failure to box out led to Ogunbanjo getting an easy put-back attempt to end the game as the clock expired.
The Gators went 29-8 on the season, compiling a 12-2 District 24-6A record, earning a co-district championship with Clear Lake.