EUSTACE — The Jacksonville Indians extended their electrifying season on Tuesday, beating the Lancaster Tigers in a 63-62 nail-biter that ended in double overtime with an Indians free throw.
The Indians advanced past the bi-district playoff game thanks to a clutch free throw with 0.5 seconds left in the game sunk by junior Raybon Riden.
Riden finished the game with 14 points, including a pair of three-pointers that kept the Indians in the game during the fourth quarter.
The contest was highly contested throughout, as both teams played physical full-court press defense for the duration of the game.
The score at halftime was a 25-23, with Lancaster leading unconvincingly.
In the second half, both teams took turns taking the lead, fueled by aggressive drives to the basket from players on both teams. However, neither team could pull away persuasively.
Lancaster senior Bobby Word ended as the night’s leading scorer with 20 points, seven of those coming during overtime.
Junior Kealon Wilson also added 18 points for the Tigers.
For Jacksonville, the other heroes of the night were seniors Dadrian Franklin and Kedarrius Buckingham, who both ended the night with 18 points.
They both also established a hostile Indians defense that doled out punishing blocks and no easy baskets for Lancaster.
Head coach Brent Kelly, who has led Jacksonville to a near-undefeated season (they had their first and only loss to John Tyler in the last game of the regular season), said he was proud of his team, which overcame an eight-point deficit in the second half.
“I told the kids, you can either lay down and die, or you can fight back — we fought back,” he said. “We couldn’t close it out in the fourth quarter. To me, that was the story of the game. … But we gutted it out and did what we needed to do in the overtimes.”
Kelly also praised the mentality of his team, which came out motivated and fought through adversity.
“The one thing I told them today, is to play with passion,” he said. “(If we lose), there’s no tomorrow. “We refused to lose. I’m proud of my kids. Lancaster played a great game and hit some crazy shots. We’re lucky to advance.”