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Panthers outlast Carver in historic six overtime thriller

By David Busman

 

AMERRICUS – It was arguably the greatest high school basketball game in Sumter County history and, quite possibly, one of the best high school basketball games in the nation’s history.

Numerous records were broken as the Americus-Sumter Panthers defeated Carver 125-122 in a six-overtime thriller. Multiple Americus-Sumter Basketball records were achieved in this game:  Most points by the team in a game, Most points by both teams in a game, Longest game in Sumter County history at three hours and four minutes,  Six overtimes; the most in school history.

Americus-Sumter is now tied for fifth nationally with five other schools who won in six overtimes: Ellwood City (PA) defeated Riverside (PA) 74-72 in six overtimes back in February of 1985. Wolf Point (MT) defeated Plentywood (MT) in six overtimes back in January of 2012. Conneaut Valley (PA) defeated Cochranton (PA) 45-43 in six overtimes back in February of 2009. Back in December of 2011, Skyline (CA) defeated Santa Theresa (CA) 97-94 in six overtimes, and back in January of 2014, it took two Wisconsin teams six extra periods to settle their game with Fall Creek defeating Colfax 68-61.

The all-time record for most overtimes in a high school basketball game is 13. It was set back on February 29, 1964. Boone Trail (NC) defeated Angiers (NC) 56-54.

However, what sets Americus-Sumter apart from all the rest, including the 13 overtime affair, is that the Panthers scored more points than any of these other teams. The game between Americus-Sumter and Carver was the highest scoring multiple overtime game in high school basketball history, with a total of 247 points scored. “It was a game for the record books. It was a critical game since Carver was undefeated in region”, Americus-Sumter Head Coach Michael Hoffpauir said. “They have two very good guards and keeping them from driving was difficult. Our bench really stepped up and made the plays we needed to make to pull off the win.”

Americus-Sumter senior shooting guard Daniel Middleton advances the ball up the court during the Panthers’ 125-122 six overtime win. photo by Lauren Busman

Both teams played a hard-fought first half, with Carver leading 33-31 at halftime. The Tigers made a run in the third quarter and ended the quarter with a 54-46 lead. In a nail-biting fourth quarter, the Panthers were able to close the deficit, but at the end of regulation, both teams were tied 68-68 and the game headed to its first overtime.

The first overtime was a back-and-forth battle, but the game could not be decided as the teams were tied 77-77 at the end of the first overtime. Both teams kept battling for the lead in the second overtime, but neither team could grab the win as the score was tied 87-87, forcing a third extra period.

During the third overtime, neither team generated much offense as the teams scored a combined 9 points in the third overtime. Once again, however, the game was deadlocked at 96-96, forcing a fourth overtime. At this point, the record for number of overtimes at Americus-Sumter was broken. During the 2015-16 season, the Panthers had two games that went to triple overtime.

As the fourth overtime drew to a close, it looked as if the Panthers were finally going to win as they were able to knock down a three-pointer, but incredibly, Coach Hoffpauir called a timeout before the shot was taken, nullifying the basket. Instead of a game-winning basket for the Panthers, they and the Tigers were forced to go to a fifth overtime, tied 107-107. “I’ve seen things like happen to other coaches and it’s unfortunate it happened to us”, Hoffpauir said. “I wanted to set up a play. It was a tough call to make.”

During the fifth overtime, the Panthers were able to build a six-point lead, but mistakes from the Panthers enabled Carver to close the gap. As a result, the game was still undecided and would have to go to a sixth overtime.

Both teams fought back and forth in the sixth and final overtime. Both teams had their chances to put the game away. However, with 24 seconds left and the scored tied 122-122, Eric Hall Jr. was fouled and made one of two free throws, giving the Panthers a one point lead. Then the Panthers made a crucial defensive play. They were able to steal the ball underneath Carver’s basket to secure possession. The ball was then thrown down the court to A’Jarrien Banks, who sealed the game with a layup to give the Panthers a history-making 125-122 win. It was an exhausting game for players, coaches and fans. “Free throws and layups win games. It was a tiring game, and we were playing against a really aggressive team”, Hoffpauir said. “It came down to which team could make the critical plays.”

Three Panthers scored in double figures. Eric Hall Jr. led Americus-Sumter in scoring with 38 points. Joshua Lusane had 29 and Sh’Qual White scored 17. With the win, the Panthers move to 15-1 over all and are tied for first place.