By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
Corsicana's Tigers beat Nacogdoches 79-72 in double overtime Friday night to keep their playoff hopes alive, breaking a two-way tie for fourth with Nacogdoches with a win they had to have.
Mike Lewis scored a game-high 27 points and Ralph Watts was huge in OT, scoring 10 of his 14 points and handing out three assists. The Tigers (4-5) have one District 16-4A game left at last-place Lindale on Tuesday and still have a chance at the No. 3 spot.
“We would like to sling-shot past Jacksonville and get the third spot,’’ Coach Don Newton said after the emotional win. “They (Jacksonville) play their last two games against Whitehouse and Tyler (the top two teams in the district).’’
The win all but clinched a playoff spot, which means the world to the seniors on this Tigers team.
“They have worked so hard and we have trying to get there the last four years,’’ Newton said. “We felt we were good enough before, but we couldn’t win the close games. This game means a lot.’’
A loss on Friday would have been devastating to Corsicana, which would have fallen to fifth place.
“Coach told us to play this game like it was our last game,” Lewis said. “I had the mindset to do whatever I had to do to help win this game. I wanted to leave my mark. We want to go to the playoffs. It’s great to be in this moment.’’
Lewis said it was about as tense as it could be, trying to survive through back-to-back overtimes.
“It was living on the edge,’’ he said. “We lose we go home. We win we keep going.’’
Lewis said Corsicana just had more left at the end.
“I think in the second overtime they got worn out,” he said. “Our conditioning paid off. I think we had more in us than they did.’’
The Tigers had to storm back in regulation just to have a chance to win. They led 29-28 at the half, but Nacogdoches opened the third with a 7-0 run and kept a five-point lead throughout the third quarter. The Tigers didn’t catch up until Lewis hit a 3 with 6:05 left in the game to knot things at 46. But Nacogdoches came right back with five unanswered points and 9-3 run and led 55-49 with 3:05 left.
But Corsicana, fighting for its playoff life, made one last dash. Lewis made brilliant assist inside to Jamaal Evens and Watts followed that play with an even better assist to Jonah McKissack, and those two drives closed it to 55-53 with 1:15 left. Nacogdoches slowed the game down but missed a shot with 48 seconds left and Evans hit a drive in traffic to knot things at 55 with 35 seconds left, and Nacogdoches couldn’t answer at the teams headed to OT.
The lead changed hands four times in the first OT and Nacogdoches led 63-61 when De’Qua Baptist, who led Nacogdoches with 18 points, hit a 3 with 51 seconds left. But the Tigers crashed the offensive boards and after missing three shots in the final seconds, Watts hit a putback with 13 seconds left to send the game into its second overtime at 63-63.
Corsicana finally took over and never trailed in the final OT. Watts poured in five points and made a steal that turned into an and-one play with 1:35 left to lift the Tigers to a 73-66. Nacogdoches hit back-to-back 3s to close to 73-72, but Watts had another beauty of an assist to McKissack, who hit a drive with 0:25 left. Lewis nailed a pair of free throws and Danair Martin hit a layup at the buzzer to make the final a seven-point win.
Martin finished with 10 points. Evans scored 11 and McKissack dropped in 17 points.