The Tellico Plains Bears needed overtime on Friday, but the Bears pulled through in the final minutes with clutch free throws to take a 59-51 win over Lookout Valley. The win advanced the Bears to the district title game for the second straight season.
Piper Carter opened the game with a layup, but back-to-back buckets from Allen Ray and Jaylen Bates put Lookout Valley on top early. Evan Harris answered with a 3-pointer to take the lead, and Carter added two layups as the Bears built onto the advantage. Bates added two more baskets for the Yellow Jackets, but a layup by Carter, two free throws by Harris and a trey by Dale Rinehart put the Bears up 16-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Baskets by Jalen Moore and Jacobi Dixon helped Lookout Valley cut the lead down to just 3, but Rinehart answered with a layup and Jesse Lambert added a free throw to keep the Bears in the lead. However, a barrage of points from Moore and Ray helped the Yellow Jackets take the lead at 24-21 with time dwindling. With the lead on the line, Lambert made four free throws and Carter added a 3-pointer just before halftime to give the Bears a 28-24 lead at the break.
Rinehart and Carter poured in layups to start the second half, and after a Moore layup, the duo repeated the feat and Carter added a free throw to take the biggest lead of the day for the Bears at 37-26. Harris added two free throws and Carter sank another layup to boost the Bears before a Moore 3-pointer stopped the run.
That’s when things got a little wild on the court. A double technical foul against Lookout Valley ejected Moore, the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer, from the game. Lambert made only one of the four free throws coming, but the impact of losing Moore put a damper on Lookout Valley, as Tellico Plains went to the fourth quarter leading 43-31.
After a Rinehart layup to open the fourth quarter, Lookout Valley put together a run without their leading scorer. Corey Talley started the run with a layup, and Chris Dixon hit back-to-back 3-pointers. Two layups by Bates later, and the Yellow Jackets had pulled within 1. Carter made a layup to stop the run and give the Bears a 3-point lead, but a trey by Ray as the clock wound down tied the game and sent the two teams to overtime.
Carter opened the extra period with an old fashioned 3-point play, and another technical foul against the Yellow Jackets put Carter at the line, where he knocked down both free throws.
Lookout Valley was forced to foul to end the game, and Lambert, Harris, and Carter went 5-of-6 from the stripe to secure the win for Tellico Plains.
Carter led all scorers with 27, while Rinehart added 13 and Harris added 10. Moore led Lookout Valley with 12 and Bates added 10.