HIGDON – It’s hard to beat a team three times in a single season.
That was the case Friday night as the Fyffe Red Devils came out on top 61-55 in an overtime thriller against the North Sand Mountain Bison in the 2A, Area 15 title game after falling to the Bison twice in the regular season.
The win earned the Red Devils the right to play at home in the sub-regional round. Fyffe will host Asbury while North Sand Mountain travels to play Area 14 champion Collinsville tonight.
Friday’s opening quarter saw the Red Devils take an early advantage with Micah Johnson and Parker Godwin scoring five early points each. Tate Goolesby and Austin Buster added a bucket each to put Fyffe ahead 14-10 after one.
NSM’s leading scorer Russ Marr and Fyffe’s Gabe Gardner traded 3-pointers to open the second quarter.
After a pair of free throws by Marr cut Fyffe’s lead to two, the Red Devils answered with a quick 7-3 run to stretch their lead back out to six.
The Bison then scored five straight before Tate Goolesby was fouled while hitting a shot in the paint and converted a 3-point play.
Tate’s free throw made the lead four until two quick Bison baskets tied the game at 27-all.
Gardner then broke the tie by hitting a layup in the final minute of the half to keep Fyffe ahead 29-27 at the break.
Gardner followed that score with his best performance of the night in the third, where he hit a 3-pointer, a shot in the paint and two free throws to lead Fyffe with seven points in the quarter. Tucker Goolesby and Godwin added four points each as the Red Devils took a 45-41 lead at the end of the third.
Johnson hit two early buckets in the fourth to keep Fyffe’s lead at four before an NSM 3-pointer cut the lead to one.
Two minutes later, Marr went to the line and hit both shots to give the Bison their first lead of the second half. Godwin then quickly drew a foul and hit one free throw to tie the game at 50-all.
Neither team was able to score again over the last 2:30 of regulation, which sent the game to overtime.
After a scoring drought closed out the fourth quarter, both teams scored on their first possession of overtime to tie the game at 52-all. Fyffe’s bucket came after Johnson pulled down an offensive board and went back up with the ball.
After Johnson’s score, Tucker Goolesby took a charge on the other end.
NSM’s Brody Romans later had a short floater rattle off the rim before Johnson answered with a layup on the other end.
After another defensive stop by Fyffe, Godwin drew a foul and hit a free throw to make the lead three.
That lead didn’t last for long as Marr answered with his fifth 3-pointer of the night to tie the game at 55-all, but Godwin drained a three of his own just 20 seconds later.
That shot gave Fyffe the lead for good. The Bison wouldn’t score again and three late free throws from Gardner and Tucker Goolesby stretched Fyffe’s lead to six before the final buzzer sounded.
Johnson and Godwin tied to lead the Red Devils with 16 points each in the win.
Johnson hit seven shots inside the arc and earned a double-double with a dozen rebounds for the night.
Godwin drained two from deep range and four from inside the arc. He also recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds.
Gardner drained a pair of threes and scored 14, Tate Goolesby netted eight points, Tucker Goolesby had five points and led Fyffe with 16 rebounds and Buster finished with two points.
Godwin, Gardner and Johnson took up three of the six spots on the All-Area Tournament Team. Godwin was also named the tournament’s MVP.
Another two postseason wins for both teams would allow them to meet one last time this season in the 2A Northeast Regional Finals at Jacksonville State.