After suffering their first loss of the season to Walnut Grove in the semi-finals of the Cabool Holiday Tournament Dec. 29, the Thayer Bobcats were undoubtedly looking to start 2004 with a clean slate in the loss column by playing host to the ICC Cougars Jan. 4.
This plan got a bit sidetracked as some clutch shooting by the Cougars saw the Bobcats ring in the new year with a 58-53 overtime loss to ICC.
With the Cougars trailing 49-46 and time winding off the clock, ICC's Jesse Dockins flipped a pass toward the deep baseline to a streaking Justin Burns. Thayer's Brett Ward tipped the ball, but it still managed to land safely in Burns' hands.
Gathering himself, and with the 6-2 Ward in his face, Burns drained a corner trey to deadlock the game at 49-all as the buzzer sounded, sending the contest into overtime.
In the extra frame, it was all ICC (13-8) as the Cougars outscored Thayer (7-2) 9-4 in the 4:00 period to win 58-53.
The turning point in the game very likely came on the first play of the third period.
With the Bobcats leading 28-21 at halftime, play opened in the third with Thayer's Josh Wemlinger (10 points) set to cruise in for an uncontested hoop. Dockins having other ideas, tried to strip Wemlinger and was whistled for an intentional foul, meaning two free throws and possession of the ball for the Bobcats.
Thayer couldn't cash in on this gift, getting no points from the charity stripe or a hoop, leaving the Cougars with the firm belief they were still in the game.
The first period of play was a close affair with the Bobcats holding a 17-15 lead after one. Aaron Henry led the way for Thayer in the first with a pair of treys on his way to a team-high 14 points for the game.
The Cougar attack ran a little dry in the second period thanks to a good defensive effort from the Bobcats.
Jason Sherrell (six points) posted ICC's only basket in the frame as the Cougars were limited to six points in the period, giving Thayer a 28-21 lead at intermission.
The tables were turned on the Bobcats after the half, with Thayer registering just one field goal in the third as ICC mounted a charge at the lead.
Despite logging just one shot from the floor in the frame as ICC made its charge at the lead, it was a big one as Layne Hawkins (eight points) canned a 3-pointer at the end of the period to keep Thayer on top 35-33 at the end of three.
Hawkins wasn't done as he opened the last period with another trey to give the Bobcats a five-point advantage early in the fourth.
The Cougars hung tough and kept Thayer from pulling away late in the game.
Holding a 44-41 lead with a 1:10 on the clock, the Bobcats turned the ball over, keeping the door ajar for the Cougars.
Robert Stephens turned an offensive rebound into a bucket with 14 ticks left on the clock with ICC down 46-43.
Stephens paced the Cougars with a huge double-double of 22 points and 12 boards.
After Henry dropped in a pair of free throws to push Thayer in front 48-43, Dockins drove down court and nailed a big 3-pointer to pull ICC within two, 48-46, with eight seconds left to play. In addition to his six points for the game, Dockins dished out 10 assists.
Eight seconds proved to be plenty of time as Dockins struck again, finding Burns for his game-tying trey as the buzzer sounded.
Burns ended the game with 13 points for the Cougars.
In the overtime period, the Cougars finished things off with a 6-2 run to end the extra frame with a 58-53 win.
Andrew Eckman tallied 10 points for the Bobcats, while John Tollenaar added five with Brett Ward and Jesse Gaines finishing with two each.
Allen Roberts logged 11 points for the Cougars.
In junior varsity action, Justin Cooper sank a pair of free throws late in the game to seal a 44-39 win for the junior varsity Bobcats.
After leading 9-3 early in the game, the junior varsity Cougars held a 22-12 halftime lead.
Opening the third period with a 18-zip run, the junior varsity Bobcats came roaring back in a big way to take a 34-29 lead after three.
Thayer kept its distance in the last period as ICC just couldn't get the lead back, with the junior varsity Cougars winning 44-39.
Dustin Gaines led the way for Thayer with 15 points, while Justin Cooper and Anthony Martin added 11 each. Bret Cotham finished with four, and M.J. Clark two for the junior varsity Bobcats.
Jonathan Quillman paced ICC with 14 points, while Adam Yancey added 12 and Jonathan Brown six. Jonathan Little and Chance Huihui tossed in three each and Zach Overturf added one point for the junior varsity Cougars.