By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Toney Foster had a birthday to remember on Saturday.
Navarro’s freshman guard, celebrating his 20th birthday, pulled up just inside the 3-point arc and drained an 18-foot jump shot at the buzzer as the Runnin’ Bulldogs stunned Lamar State-Port Arthur 81-79 in overtime at the Wolens Special Events Center.
Navarro inbounded the basketball at midcourt with 2.1 seconds left in overtime. Foster took the pass and dribbled just outside the free throw line, where he rose up and drilled the game-winner.
“I knew the play wasn’t there that we drew up,” said Foster, from Monroe, La. “I just went down and it felt good off my hand.”
Navarro (13-4, 5-1) rallied in overtime against a Lamar State team it was tied with in the overall Region XIV standings.
Lamar State (11-3, 4-2) scored the first four points of overtime, but Bulldogs sophomore point guard Jonathan Benn, usually a clutch player at the end of games, made a baseline jumper and two free throws to tie the game at 76-76 with 2:49 left in the game.
Benn, a terrific free throw shooter, followed that up by missing two from the line to give Navarro the lead and Lamar State responded. Seahawks guard Charles Bennett drilled a 3-pointer with 1:24 left in overtime for a 79-76 lead.
Navarro came back with defense. The Bulldogs got a steal and Jamar Goodwin tied the game with a 3-pointer with 34 seconds left in the game.
Brandon Scott and Foster then forced a turnover on a double team near midcourt with 2.1 seconds left, setting up the heroic moment.
Navarro led 36-30 at halftime, but should have been up more. The Bulldogs missed 5 of 6 free throws late in the half. Missed free throws haunted the Bulldogs all night — Navarro made just 20 of 38 free throws.
Navarro had a 56-48 lead early in the second half, but Lamar State answered with an 11-0 run to take the lead. Evan Sims scored two key baskets during the stretch for the Seahawks.
The game went back and forth from there, and the Runnin’ Bulldogs looked like they would end the game in regulation when Brandon Scott made two free throws for a 71-70 lead with 28 seconds left. And Foster came up with a steal and made one of two free throws for a 72-70 lead.
Lamar State’s Tyrone Allen missed a long 3-pointer and when Goodwin was fouled with 8.7 seconds left the Bulldogs were in position to clinch the win. Goodwin missed both free throws and the Seahawks tied the game with .2 seconds left in regulation on Anthony Allen’s layup.
But as has been the case with this Navarro team, the Bulldogs found a way to make the plays in overtime.
“We kept our competitive edge,” Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said. “The guys played hard and they found a way to win.”
Navarro 81, Lamar State-Port Arthur 79 (OT)
Lamar State 30 42 7 — 79
Navarro 36 36 9 — 81
Lamar State — Charles Bennett 23, Darius Stallworth 2, Kieran Woods 8, Tyrone Allen 9, Korbin McClain 12, Anthony Allen 8, Evan Sims 11, Jamal Shabazz 6.
Navarro — Harrison Hawkins 6, Shannon Lilly 3, Jonathan Benn 12, Princeton Onwas 14, David Woodard 3, Toney Foster 15, Jamar Goodwin 7, Brandon Scott 10, Aaron Turner 1, Terrance Syon 2, Lamark Barnes 6, Jaleel Cousins 2.
Records — Lamar State 11-3, 4-2 in the South Zone. Navarro 13-4, 5-1 in the North Zone.