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If South Oldham was supposed to feel intimidated by a first-round matchup with Collins High School, someone forgot to pass that along to the Dragons Tuesday night as they ended the Titans’ season in dramatic fashion, rallying for a thrilling 85-82 overtime win.
“All we heard was how horrible a draw this was for us, that’d we have to play the best team in the region first,” senior Matt Haysley said. “But you know what, it was a bad draw for them.”
Early on, it certainly looked like it as South Oldham came out of gates in a flurry.
After struggling offensively in a 59-52 loss to rival Oldham County in the 29th district final, the Dragons had no problem in a return to Henry County, catching fire from the field early in their Eighth Region opener.
Haysley played the largest role, scoring 12 of South Oldham’s 19 first-quarter points, including seven straight to open the game.
Though he cooled off shortly after, the Dragons kept up the mercurial pace, extending their lead to 15 during the next eight minutes.
That advantage continued to swell throughout the third quarter and early into the fourth as the lead grew to 21 points just seconds into the final frame.
But that’s when Collins came alive and a 25-8 run pulled the Titans within striking distance with less than a minute to play.
After a pair of free throws from senior Michael Haysley pushed the score to 70-64, Collins clawed within three on a 3-pointer and regained possession after a Dragon turnover.
They missed a last-second shot but a South Oldham carry with half a second remaining put the ball back in Collins’ hands.
In an attempt to neutralize a potential game-tying 3-pointer, South Oldham coach Steve Simpson fouled off the ball before a shot was attempted, sending Collins to the line to decide the game.
After making the first free throw, Ralphie Stone missed the second intentionally and Buddy Johnson was able to corral it and convert as the clock expired.
Any momentum Collins had went out the door in the extra period though as a 10-point surge by Matthew Haysley and two clutch free throws from guard Mitch Catinnna was enough to put the game out of reach.
“When we were up 21, we knew they were going to make a run,” Simpson said, “we just didn’t think it would be that kind of a run. We really got into it in the timeout before the overtime and two weeks ago, they would have sulked and got mad at me but you could see in their eyes that they responded. They realized they let this get away and they decided to be men and get it back.”
South Oldham 19 20 18 13 15 — 85
Collins 10 14 15 15 12 — 82
South Oldham (21-7) —Ma. Haysley 27, Catinna 18, Goodlett 14, Jones 13, Sherry 5, Greenwood 3, Griffin 3, Mi. Haysley 2.
3-pointers — Catinna 3, Ma. Haysley 3, Jones 2, Greenwood, Griffin, Sherry.
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