Note: This story was last updated at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 28.
For a few minutes, it looked like Oak Ridge might repeat its comeback overtime win against Powell.
Down by eight points in the third quarter on Thursday, the Wildcats tied the game 59-59 with less than one minute to play with a flurry of baskets by seniors Jaylin Henderson, Isaac Merian, and Kevin Steen.
But this time, with a Region 2-AAA championship on the line, Oak Ridge was unable to muster a miracle in overtime. Led by the six points of senior Dallas Fields, Powell pulled away from the Wildcats just enough to win. The final score was 72-70, and Powell was named Region 2 champions for the first time since 2006.
But the Wildcats (29-7) aren’t out of the playoffs. They travel to Kingsport on Monday to play Dobyns-Bennett (21-8) at 7 p.m. in a Class AAA sectional for a chance to go to the state tournament in Murfreesboro in March.
Meanwhile, Powell (23-9) will play at home at against Jefferson County (29-5) on Monday.
Coaching in his last season after 39 years, Powell Coach Mike Ogan said he experienced a moment of déja vu in front of a raucous crowd at Wildcat Arena on Thursday night. Just last week, his Panthers gave up a 17-point lead and lost to Oak Ridge 69-67 on a buzzer-beating off-the-backboard shot by Merian in overtime. That was the semifinals for the District 3 championship, which the Wildcats went on to win.
“I thought it was gonna get away, but it didn’t,” Ogan said of Thursday night’s game. “I thought we were going to let another one slip away.”
Ogan said the Panthers hit more big shots than Oak Ridge, especially in the first half. Fields hit five three-points shots and finished with 32 points—16 in each half—and nine rebounds. Powell senior Alex Hill scored 17 and had six rebounds and seven assists, Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said.
“We just didn’t get it done with those two guys,” Green said. “We didn’t have an answer defensively.”
Henderson had 23 points Thursday, and Merian added 21. The next-highest scorer for Oak Ridge, freshman Tee Higgins, had 8.
Fields said the Panthers were motivated by their Feb. 17 overtime loss to Oak Ridge.
“We came ready to play,” he said.
It was the fourth time the two teams have met this season. The Wildcats played the Panthers twice during the regular season, losing the first game 56-51 but winning the second 79-47. They’ve also split the wins 1-1 in the playoffs.
The Monday night game in Kingsport will be the second meeting this year for Oak Ridge and Dobyns-Bennett. The Wildcats beat the Indians 73-63 in the Cleveland Shootout at Cleveland, Tenn., on Dec. 21. But Dobyns-Bennett has won 16 straight games and was named Region 1 champions after a 63-52 victory over Jefferson County on Thursday.
Oak Ridge won the Region 2 championship last year and was going for back-to-back wins on Thursday.
See the Division I Class AAA boys’ basketball sectional pairings here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.