Theo Pinson of High Point (N.C.) Wesleyan Christian nearly waited too long to get going again on Friday.
But this time, the North Carolina signee made the plays down the stretch to keep his team out of the seventh-place game in the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
Pinson had a late four-point play and then made the winning free throws as Wesleyan Christian topped Willard 53-51 in overtime.
“I knew I had to make a play for the team, and do everything I could to have them believe that we could still win this game,” Pinson said. “I think everybody on the team just felt like we had to get a win. We had to get everybody’s confidence up to show that we can get a win.”
Wesleyan Christian will play Sun Valley (Calif.) Village Christian in today’s 5:30 p.m. fifth-place game. Willard plays Kickapoo at 4 for seventh.
Willard (11-4) led nearly the entire game, save for a brief first-quarter tie.
However, with 1:05 to play, Pinson pulled up from about 7 feet behind the 3-point line, drilled it and was fouled on the way down.
The play came after Willard missed two of four free throws on the previous possession.
It was a trend throughout for coach Lamont Frazier’s Tigers. Willard finished 16 of 27 (59 percent) from the stripe.
Wesleyan Christian (15-7) had a chance to win in regulation but missed three shots from point blank that would’ve been game-winners.
Meanwhile, Willard was nearly saved in overtime by a trio of free throws by Chris Kendrix. Kendrix tied the game by knocking down three with 6.2 seconds left in overtime.
But as Pinson advanced the ball downcourt, he was fouled with 4.4 seconds to play. He made both free throws to seal the win.
Pinson had 24 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Kendrix had 22 points and eight rebounds. Skyler Baker had 12 points and seven boards for the Tigers.
* Sun Valley (Calif.) Village Christian 55, Kickapoo 52, 2 OT: For the second straight night, the Kickapoo Chiefs put a scare in one of the T of C’s guests.
But for the second straight night, the Chiefs walked away disappointed.
After Thursday’s narrow defeat against Christ the King, Kickapoo took Village Christian to two overtimes, but walked away empty-handed.
“In this tournament, really there’s no such thing as a moral victory,” said Kickapoo junior Jack Simpson, who scored a game-high 19 points. “We didn’t get over the hump, and it just sucks. There’s really no other way to put it. This one is hard to swallow.”
The Chiefs (11-4) fell behind by double-digits in the third quarter but were bolstered by the bench, which mounted a run to force a tight finish.
Marsalis Johnson scored 17 points to lead the Crusaders (13-2).