GOODY, Ky. – A triple overtime stunner between the Belfry Pirates and the Pike County Central Hawks ended with the Pirates winning 80-78.
The second round of the 2016 boys’ 60th District Tournament turned out to be one for the highlight reel. Belfry won in dramatic fashion, with Koleston Blankenship laying in the winning bucket right before the final buzzer sounded.
To understand the significance of the slim victory margin there has to be an explanation of how the game got there. With 25 seconds left to play in the third overtime, Pike Central’s Ryan Eads ties up the score at 78 after being fouled on an offensive put back. Eads made the shot, and was awarded a plus one foul shot. Eads missed the free throw and Belfry gained possession. Belfry worked the ball down to their side of the court and called a quick timeout.
Belfry inbounded the ball and it landed in the hands of Belfry’s point guard Austin Woolum who made a break for the basket looking for the win. Woolum missed the shot, but was fouled on the attempt. Woolum stepped to the line for his two foul shots while the crowd leaned forward in anticipation. A gasp was heard throughout the gym as Woolum missed both free throws.
The Pirates and the Hawks both scrambled to secure the rebound. The scuffle caused confusion when the ball rolled out of bounds. The players looked up at the referees and the referees looked back at the players. It became obvious that no one had a clue who had touched the ball last. The referees had a meeting with the coaches and explained the “jump ball” rule would be brought into effect. The Pirates got lucky when it turned out possession belonged to them.
1.3 seconds left on the clock and Belfry’s Garrett Fannin stands beneath the goal on the baseline surveying the floor. The whistle blew and the single file line the Pirates had formed near the baseline began to explode in different directions. Blankenship made a quick turnaround from the foul line and headed to the goal where he was greeted with Fannin’s inbound pass. The ball glanced off the backboard and the Belfry High School Gymnasium erupted in celebration; either because they had won or that the game was over is still not clear.
Heading back to the first period Pike Central jumped out to a quick lead. With just under two minutes to play in the first the Hawks were ahead 12-4. Belfry fought back to tie the score up at 12 points with 30 seconds remaining in the period. Pike Central’s Tyler Burnett nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the period 15-12 in favor of the Hawks.
The Hawks got the better of the Pirates in the second period but Belfry was able to stay within reach. Both teams headed into the locker room with Pike Central ahead, the score at the half was 28-20. Belfry had played physical in the first half, but less than stellar offensively.
The Pirates and the Hawks returned to the third period going shot for shot until Burnett was fouled and awarded a plus one free throw which distanced the Hawks to a score of 35-29 over the Pirates. Woolum hit a 3-pointer and the Pirates wiggled right back into with three points. With the third period ending Belfry had worked to within one point of the Hawks, the score was 37-36. During the last seconds Eads made a layup to give the Hawks a three point lead over Belfry at the end of three.
Belfry received the ball first to start the fourth period and begin the downward spiral into many more minutes. Belfry took the lead at the 6:34 mark with a score of 41-39 after Woolum drove down the lane and kissed one off the backboard. A Pike Central player was called for stepping out of bounds with the ball and Belfry capitalized and gained another two points.
The game turned into a struggle with play getting physical and both teams hungry for the win. Belfry had increased their lead to seven points by the three minute mark with a score of 50-43. Within a minute the Hawks had fought back to within one point of the Pirates at 50-49. With 44 seconds remaining in the ball game Belfry had a three point lead of 56-53. Burnett was fouled and put the Hawks back within one point.
Pike Central’s Teddy Smith was fouled with 32 seconds remaining. Smith made one of two free throws and tied up the game. Both teams tried to score but the game ended up going into overtime.
During an overtime period the time is halved and each period only lasts four minutes. A tipoff is performed just like in the beginning of the game and Belfry won the tipoff. Once again the game continued back and forth until Belfry pulled away with 52 seconds remaining. The score was 63-58 in favor of the Pirates. Blankenship was fouled with 44 second remaining and pushed the Pirates score to 64 with Pike Central trailing by three points. Hunter Clark nailed a 3-pointer with time running out to tie up the score at 64 and send the game into double overtime.
With 28 seconds remaining in the second overtime the Hawks were trying something different. Pike Central would bring Eads out to the front court and let him stand with the ball looking to score one basket before the time ran out to clinch the win. With Eads’s tall frame the Belfry player assigned to guard him was Cole Bentley. Eads was watching the clock in anticipation and headed to the basket with two seconds remaining and the score tied at 72. Bentley stood strong and blocked Eads shot sending the game into the thrilling third overtime.
Belfry Head Coach Mark Thompson said, ” That last inbounds play we ran, was something I had saw in youth league games. I knew it would work, we put it in only two weeks ago. I can’t take credit for the call, it was Garrett (Fannin) who called the play, it’s so great to see our senior leading like that.”
” I have to say what a great point guard Austin (woolum) had been for us, we fought our tails off in that second half. The Pike Central kids played great ball and really pushed hard. This was just an outstanding team effort for us. We got a little lucky with that jump ball call but sometimes you have to be a little lucky in order to win,” continued Thompson.
Belfry was led in scoring by Woolum who netted a career high 35 points, 28 of which were scored in the second half, 14 was scored in the three overtime periods. Woolum was 14 of 23 from the floor and 4 for 9 from behind the 3-point range. Fannin finished the night.
Garrett Fannin set the all-time record for career 3-point field goals made, with 158, moving him one ahead of J. J. Hylton. He ended the game with 1,437 career points, moving him past Barry Crum for 4th on the all-time list. He is 9 points away from passing Gary Smith for 3rd.
The Pirates advance to play Lawrence County in the 60th District Championship game to be held at Belfry tonight, (Thursday) after the girls championship game featuring Belfry and the Lawrence County Lady Bulldogs.
Scores by quarters:
Pike Central (12-19) 15 13 11 17 8 8 6 — 78
Belfry (12-16) 12 8 16 20 8 8 8 — 80
PC: Burnett 25, Clark 7, Smith 18, Wallace 4, Eads 19, Conn 5.
B: Woolum 35, Fannin 25, Blankenship 12, Carr 2, Bentley 6.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)