By Chuck Reherman
Class A No. 16 ranked Southwest Covenant missed opportunities all night and it came back to bite them in the closing seconds.
OCA’s Tyler Toth hit a shot in the lane with four seconds remaining and the Patriots missed on a last second chance to fall to the class 2A Eagles, 58-57, Tuesday night at SWCS.
The Patriots, 3-2, led through most of three quarters and saw OCA put together a fourth quarter rally to draw within one point.
“We played good enough to win the game,” SWCS head coach Kevin Cobbs said. “OCA is definitely an underrated 2A team with good size, good guards and guys that can hit the three. With that said, we had every opportunity to win the game.
“We had a 10-point lead in the third quarter, but they battled back and we missed free throws,” he said. “We gave up an easy shot with four seconds left in the game. I still believe we are a really good class A team who could very well win the state title, but we will have to finish games a lot better than we did last night.”
The Patriots led 44-39 early in the fourth quarter but saw OCA chip away at the lead. A Noah Bosley trey cut the lead to 44-42. A Cole Gatlin field goal and a pair of Anthony Cox free throws pushed the lead to 48-42. Karson Fellers closed the margin to 48-44 on a pair of Karson Fellers free throws and a Fellers trey cut the lead to 48-47.
A Will Haas trey pushed the lead to 51-47, but Bosley hit a bucket and a trey from Toth made it a 53-52 game.
SWCS led 57-56 with under 10 seconds remaining. OCA threw the ball into the 6-5 Toth who scored with four seconds left to make it a 58-57 game.
The Patriots had one chance after calling a time out and got the ball into Kirk Cole, but his shot was contested and came up just short as time ran out.
“We ran a good set to get the ball into Kirk’s hands, it was well contested and he just missed it,” Cobbs said. “OCA didn’t have to foul to get back into the game, but in tight games every point matters regardless if it is early or late. You can’t shoot 50-percent from the line and win close games.
“I guess you could call it a learning experience,” he said. “But veteran teams likes ours shouldn’t have too many games that get chalked up as learning experiences.”
It was a tight game from the start. The Patriots actually hit more shots from the floor, but OCA connected on more three-point shots to keep it a one-point game. Cole hit three shots from the floor, Tyler Kelly had a trey and a bucket and Haas hit two shots to give the Patriots an 18-17 lead.
SWCS hit the three-point shots of their own in the second quarter, using a pair from Kelly and one from Cole to open a 34-29 lead at the half. Haas and Cox hit shots to open a 22-19 lead before Cole hit his first trey of the game to make it 25-21. Kelly keyed a 9-3 run with a pair of treys to make it 34-24. OCA used a trey from Fellers and a bucket from Xavier Sayler to cut the lead to 34-29 at the half.
Haas led the Patriot scoring with 14, Kelly had 13, Cole 11, Cox 10 and Gatlin nine. Fellers led OCA with 19, Toth had 12 and Bosley 11.
The Patriots will play today in the Hammon Tournament and will host Astec Charter in a 7:30 p.m. game on Tuesday.