Note: This story was updated at 8:50 a.m.
POWELL—The Oak Ridge Wildcats erased a 17-point Powell lead in a semifinal tournament game on Monday and advanced to the district championship with a buzzer-beating 69-67 come-from-behind overtime win.
The Wildcats, who struggled on defense and with rebounding for much of the game, trailed the Panthers throughout the first three quarters, often by more than 10 points.
But a fired-up Jaylin Henderson came alive in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats, stealing balls on one end and scoring baskets on the other. He tied the game at 63-63 with about 17 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Senior forward Isaac Merian, who had been relatively quiet for much of the night, scored the winning basket in overtime, picking up a loose ball and banking in an off-the-backboard shot as time expired, giving the Wildcats their 69-67 victory.
Oak Ridge fans exploded with excitement, and Panthers fans left in stunned silence.
“It was one of the better comebacks I’ve every been part of,” Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been as proud of a team.”
Oak Ridge (26-6) will play Halls (20-9) in the District 3-AAA championship game at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Powell.
The Wildcats hadn’t played in nine days before Monday because they had earned a bye in the tournament, and winter weather last week delayed tournament games. Meanwhile, Powell had already won two tournament games, beating Gibbs and Clinton, and was on a roll.
Led by Dallas Fields, the Panthers dominated the first half on Monday. Fields finished the night with 27 points, and 20 of those came in the first half. The score at halftime was 41-29 in favor of the Panthers.
But senior forward Kevin Steen kept Oak Ridge in the game throughout the first three quarters, scoring 17 points, including 12 on four three-point-shots. All of his points were in the first three quarters.
Meanwhile, most of Henderson’s 21 points—or 14 of them—were in the fourth quarter. A senior guard, Henderson was the top scorer for the Wildcats on Monday.
“Jaylin Henderson got us back into it,” a clearly jubilant coach Green said after the game.
Merian finished the night with 11 points. Also scoring in overtime with a crucial basket was senior forward Xavier Maddox, who gave Oak Ridge its first lead of the night at 67-65.
The Wildcats played the Panthers twice during the regular season, losing the first game 56-51 but winning the second 79-47.
Also scoring in double digits for the Panthers on Monday was Conley Hamilton, who contributed 17 points.
Powell (20-8) will play Karns (21-6) for third place in the District 3-AAA basketball tournament at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Powell.
More information will be added as it becomes available.