Rogersville had three late chances to get a road victory Friday in its Central Ozark Conference Small Division opener.
But when the game stretched to its third overtime late into the night, the Marshfield Blue Jays made sure there would not be another, winning an 88-78, triple-overtime thriller.
“It’s very big,” Marshfield senior Blayne Armstrong said. “After beating them last year in a close one, and them coming in here this year, we knew it would have big conference implications.”
The Wildcats (5-5) had the ball with the game tied as the clock wound down in regulation, and in each of the first two overtimes.
However, Rogersville was called for a traveling violation late in the fourth quarter and then missed two shots after late timeouts in both overtimes.
Then, Marshfield took advantage in the third, as Armstrong pushed the deficit to 83-76 with 53 seconds remaining, the last of three clutch 3-pointers.
It was the 26th point of the night and sixth 3 for Armstrong. Fittingly, his point guard helped seal the win with some ball-handling and three late free throws, as Kerrick Wright equaled Armstrong’s 26-point output.
The Jays finished 13-of-16 (81 percent) from the free-throw line in the three overtimes combined.
“One thing I was impressed with is how mentally strong guys stayed,” Marshfield coach J.C. Carter said. “We had two guys foul out in the fourth quarter, and I knew fatigue would play a major factor.”
But Marshfield, led by Wright, stayed the course and played poised throughout.
“I’ve been riding (Wright) like crazy,” Carter said. “We’ve been having way too many turnovers lately, but they did a good job of making sure we had quality possessions.”
Marshfield had just 11 turnovers in the 44-minute game, including none in the final two overtimes.
Armstrong hit a big 3-pointer with 1:58 remaining in regulation to give the Jays their first lead since halftime, and then another in the second overtime to force a third.
The loss put a damper on a brilliant night for Rogersville senior Justus Boever, who scored 38 points.
The win for Marshfield came with the return of junior post player Lawfton Summers, who missed the end of the 2012 portion of the schedule with an injury.
His presence off the bench was obvious right away, as Marshfield’s seven shots were 3-pointers before he entered the game. Then, on his first possession, Summers took a Bradey Welsh pass and went up strong for an inside hoop.
The win gives Marshfield a 2-0 mark in the COC Small, and moved the Jays to 7-4.
Rogersville coach Rod Gorman said he was proud of his team’s effort.
“We’re a young, inexperienced team,” he said. “You can learn so much from a game like this, and we will take way more positives than negatives from this game.”