Hawks battle for overtime win

Robert Montgomery led a 12-0 run in overtime to lead the Hawks over West Oktibbeha, 83-71 in the final game of Myrtle’s Christmas Classic Tuesday night.

The Timberwolves opened the extra period on a 6-0 run with four points from Dantaveaus Crawford. Montgomery and the Hawks connected on 10-of-11 free throws after that point to regain the lead and earn the win.

“I watched it, as physical as it was, our kids shot the ball extremely well and made some plays, but I’m not sure how we were up more than them,” Myrtle head coach Jonathan Ashley said. “Our kids fought and fought with the deck stacked against them, but somehow found a way.”

The Hawks were ahead 52-42 heading into the final frame and were outscored 29-19 with Michael Graise leading West Oktibbeha with nine points in the quarter. Kendrin Yates tied the game at 71 and Yates threw up what would have been the game-winning shot, but stepping out of bounds gave the ball to Myrtle with 1.3 seconds remaining.

Adam Baker attempted a pass inbounds for the Hawks, but with the ball going out on the baseline, West Oktibbeha had one last chance, but a missed shot by Dwight Quinn sent the game to overtime.

“We were trying to get a back pick, running Steven and Russ down the sideline. He [Baker] did a good job of throwing it up, and it comes with experience, but you’ve got to get a touch so you don’t give them another opportunity, and we didn’t do that,” Ashley explained. “Our hope was that everyone would go to Steven and Russ and that would give us Robert around the half court line and he could take a dribble and see what happens. That could have done us in, but we battled back.”

The Hawks overcame an early game deficit to take the lead at the end of the first quarter on a three-pointer by Cruz Weatherall. The Timberwolves built an early 6-0 advantage, but after three-pointers by Russ Yates and Heriah Dodson, Myrtle worked their way back with Yates tying the game at 13 before Weatherall’s end-of-quarter triple.

Myrtle held the lead throughout the second frame, connecting on four three-pointers. With the help of Nick Milsap, the Hawks built a 39-30 halftime lead after two triples by the senior.

Dodson led the Hawks with 21 points, followed by 18 from Montgomery and Yates. Kendrin Yates led the Timberwolves with 19, followed by 14 points from Crawford and Aaron Bramlee.

Myrtle (11-7) will have a well-needed break before a tough three-game stretch starting at Baldwyn on Jan. 6.

“We’re going to work on shooting the basketball and blocking out, and we’re going to get some rest and heal,” Ashley said. “The kids have been going hard since the first day of school, so we’re going to give them four or five days off and get back after it, because we have games at Baldwyn, New Albany and Belmont at Hickory Flat, so I don’t think there’s any other team in the state that’s going to play as tough of a three-game stretch coming back as us. We’ll show up and see what happens.”

Myrtle 72 West Oktibbeha 45 (girls)

The Lady Hawks earned another impressive win, defeating West Oktibbeha on the back of Aspriona Gilbert's second double-double performance in as many days.

Myrtle jumped out to a quick lead, 10-0 and held a 15-point advantage after the first quarter with the help of back-to-back three-point plays by Halle Knowles and Aspriona Gilbert. Shamia Robinson scored all of the Lady Timberwolves points in the frame, 17 in the half, while the Gilbert-Knowles duo combined for 39 of Myrtle’s 47 first half points (Gilbert 21, Knowles 18).

 Gilbert led Myrtle (16-3) with a game-high 34 points and 15 rebounds, while Robinson, a Mississippi State signee, finished with 25. Meshay Cox added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Myrtle, and for the Lady Timberwolves, Brittany Jones scored 10 points.