Mount Gilead’s basketball season came to an end Tuesday after Pleasant outlasted them in a double-overtime thriller in a district semifinal game hosted by Ridgedale.
The Indians battled back from a nine-point third-quarter deficit to send the game to an extra session and then wiped out a five-point Spartan lead in the final 68 seconds of overtime to keep the action going for four more minutes, but would not be able to hold off Pleasant in the second overtime in falling 62-56.
“This was a special night and people will talk about this game a long time,” said MG coach Tom Cooper. “It’s an incredibly disappointing end to our season, but I couldn’t be any more proud of the players.”
Throughout the 32 minutes of regulation basketball, neither team could maintain the momentum long enough to gain a sizable advantage over the other. In the first quarter, a trio of three-pointers by Deondre Cook helped stake the Indians to a 12-7 lead, but Pleasant finished the period with five straight points from Nico Sansotta to tie the score heading into the second quarter.
The Spartans opened the second quarter with a three-pointer to take their first lead of the night, but MG bounced back with baskets from Tyler Bland, Cook and Mason Mollohan to jump in front 18-15. With the lead 20-18 in favor of the Indians, Pleasant would score eight straight points to jump in front by six; however, Mount Gilead got shots from Cook and Bland to close within a 26-24 margin at the intermission.
Pleasant looked to take control of the game in the third period, scoring the first seven points to jump out to a 33-24 advantage two minutes into the quarter. MG battled back over the rest of the quarter, though. Trailing 39-31 with under 30 seconds remaining, Tyler Bland hit a three-pointer and then got the ball back, drawing a foul on another attempted three. The junior guard drained all three free throws to bring the Indians within two.
Isaiah Harris hit a basket and foul shot to open the fourth by putting MG up 40-39. The Spartans would regain the lead, though, going up 49-45 with three minutes to play. That lead would not last, as the Indians got two free throws from Cook and a basket by Bland to tied the score at 49 with just under two minutes remaining.
Pleasant decided to stall for the last shot, but turned the ball over with roughly two seconds to play. The Indians attempted a last-second three, but missed it to send the game to a first overtime.
Mount Gilead didn’t score for nearly three minutes of the four-minute period, as Pleasant jumped in front 54-49. A late rally would keep their hopes alive, as Harris scored on a tip-in with 1:08 to play and Cook added a three-pointer with 34 seconds remaining to tie the game again.
Unfortunately for MG, they wouldn’t have any more magic in the second overtime. Once again, the Spartans scored the first five points of the period. Alijah Keen scored with one minute remaining and the Indians then forced a steal, but could not convert offensively. Pleasant then hit three field goals down the stretch to claim the win and end Mount Gilead’s season at 16-8.
“That’s one of the calling cards of our team — they never quit,” said Cooper of his team’s multiple comebacks in the game. “But a lot of credit goes to Pleasant. They did great at the defensive end and we couldn’t make enough plays to get it done. Pleasant has really physical and talented athletes. With their length and ability on the boards, they’re a difficult team to play against.”
Cook led the Indians with 21 points, while Bland added 13 and Zack Hosack scored nine. Cooper noted that while his team has the potential to continue its recent success, they will have to improve, as well as replace a strong senior class.
“Guys like Isaiah Harris, Deondre Cook, Alex Ferguson and Ben Hayes are special guys who did it the right way,” he said. “Our future is bright because of the precedent they set, but we have a lot of improving to do.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS