Tevin Mack was at his best when Dreher needed him the most. The Blue Devils faced off against the Hammond Skyhawks on Friday night in the first round of the American Division bracket of the Chick-fil-A Classic basketball tournament.
The senior point guard sunk three consecutive fouls shots after being fouled behind the arc with just six seconds to go in double overtime to ice a 70-67 win over the Skyhawks.
The Blue Devils, however, had to work their way back to even put themselves in a position to go into the first overtime, as they trailed Hammond by 19 points heading into halftime.
Dreher coach Jeff DiBattisto said getting back to playing the kind of basketball they’re used to was vital to their second half comeback.
“The big thing was just doing what we do,” he said. “We were prepared to play them and what they ran. We just didn’t execute it in the first half. All credit to those guys in the locker room because they came out and believed, ‘Alright, we can do this’ and then they executed what we had practiced all week.”
Dreher’s execution was solid to start the second half in which the Blue Devils went on a 16-1 run in the first six minutes of the half to pull within five points at 35-30 with around 10 minutes left in the game.
The game would continue to go back and forth throughout the second half until another Blue Devil came up with one of the biggest plays in the game.
Trailing 49-46 and with only 11 second left, senior guard Deandre Nathaniel hit a 3-pointer that tied the game at 49 to send both squads to the first overtime of the matchup.
DiBattisto said while Nathaniel’s shot was obviously huge for the game, everyone doing their part put them in a position to go to overtime.
“He’s a big-time player and the adage goes ‘Big-time players make big-time shots in big-time games’ and he did it,” he said. “But again, you have to go back to the idea we had guys step up, especially in overtime. (Picking up) crucial rebounds and (making) smart decisions.”
Hammond would not be outdone by Dreher in that first overtime, during which senior forward Xavier McDaniel would hit his own 3-pointer as time expired and tied the game at 58 to send the game into double overtime.
The game would continue its back-and-forth momentum in the second overtime before both teams were tied at 67, when McDaniel fouled Mack.
Hammond coach Mark McClam said he was proud of his players fighting back to go into that second overtime but that the inability to rebound hurt the Skyhawks.
“I’m thrilled about our resiliency to come back under duress, but I’m extremely disappointed how badly we rebounded the ball,” he said. “There’s just no excuse. We got killed on the defensive boards. They had 16 offensive rebounds. I told them at halftime you’re going to win or lose this game on defensive and offensive rebounds. We were horrible on the glass.”
Mack ended his night with 43 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Nathaniel tallied 15 points for Dreher.
Hammond’s Seventh Woods had a big night all around as well, scoring 17 points, five assists, four steals and seven rebounds. Lucas Prickett recorded 18 points for the Skyhawks, and McDaniel was right behind with 17 points. Chevez Goodwin tallied 10 points for Hammond.
Dreher moves to 7-1 on the season with the win while Hammond drops to 7-2 on the year.
Dreher on Monday will face the winner of Saturday’s Morgan County (GA) vs. Trinity Christian (NC) game.
Hammond on Monday will face the loser of the Morgan County-Trinity Christian matchup in the Consolation Championship bracket.
Lower Richland 55, Keenan 49
Lower Richland and Keenan squared of in one of four first-round games of the American Division bracket of the Chick-fil-A Classic, with the Diamond Hornets picking up the 55-49 win.
The victory gives Lower Richland a 4-5 mark on the year and pushes them to the second round of the tournament. The Diamond Hornets on Monday will play the winner of Saturday’s Mullins (SC) vs. Greenforest Academy (GA).
Lower Richland was outscored 32-21 in the first half by Keenan, but the Diamond Hornets used a 34-point second half to pace themselves to victory.
Senior Jared Richardson led all Lower Richland scorers with 20 points on 6-of-12 shooting while also hauling in eight rebounds. Sophomore C.J. Nuttry recorded 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Diamond Hornets.
Keenan’s top score was junior forward LeMarcus Johnson, who tallied 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting, hauled in 10 rebounds and had two steals.
Sophomore shooting guard Tariq Simmons had the second-most points for the Raiders with 13 points on 6-of-15 shooting and bright in three rebounds and recorded two assists.
Keenan now falls to 2-5 on the season and on Monday will take on the loser of the Mullins-Greenforest Academy game in the Consolation Championship bracket.