When Oak Grove senior center Trey Bryant converted on a fast-break layup and was fouled, the home crowd went into a frenzy.
That seemed like the big moment that would help the Panthers forge a tie atop the Missouri River Valley Conference West standings with the Tigers, as they were up 44-41.
However, Bryant missed the ensuing free throw and a costly late foul helped Warrensburg send it to overtime and eventually take a 56-50 victory, clinching at least a share of the conference title.
“We missed free throws and we had a bad foul up two,” Oak Grove coach Ty Hames said. ”We have to know certain situations that we go over in practice. We have to execute those in the game. Hopefully for us it’s a big learning lesson.”
He was talking about a foul Bryant committed with 6.2 seconds left, that allowed Warrensburg’s Luke Mackey to go to the free throw line as the Panthers led 45-43. Mackey hit both of them to send the game to overtime.
Oak Grove took the lead midway through the second quarter when Bryant scored a basket inside off an assist from junior guard Tully Thomsen. That was a part of a 13-0 run powered by eight points from Thomsen that allowed the Panthers to take a 30-20 halftime lead.
The Panthers led 36-35 at the end of the third quarter and maintained a lead until the final 10 seconds of regulation. After Bryant missed the free throw late in the fourth, Tigers guard Peyton Long, who finished with 15 points, made two free throws to cut Oak Grove’s lead to one.
The Tigers nearly took the lead for the first time since early in the second quarter when Mackey got a steal at half-court but missed a fast-break layup.
Thomsen was fouled shortly after and made the first of two free throws. The second one hit off the back iron and Mackey pulled down the rebound and later hit the game-tying free throws. Thomsen’s desperation 3-point attempt before the buzzer missed and sent the contest to overtime.
“If we would have picked up where we left on in the first half, we would have been in a better spot,” Bryant said. “In my head, I was thinking Tully is a knock-down free throw shooter. I felt like he was going to make it. I didn’t think with all the pressure that (Mackey) would make those free throws. But that was just a poor judgment call.”
Mackey, who finished with 15 points, rifled a pass to forward Zack Reed, who had a team-high 17 points, and he made the layup to put the Tigers up for good at 47-45. The Panthers shot 2 of 8 from the floor in overtime and committed four turnovers as Warrensburg (19-3, 8-0) pulled away. Bryant and Brenden Marsh, both starters, also fouled out in the final two minutes.
“They do a good job of getting back on defense and took us out of our transition game,” Hames said of Warrensburg. “We knew we were going to have to grind the game out. In the first half, we were able to get out in transition a little bit.
“We played district championship basketball in the second quarter. They didn’t do anything we weren’t prepared for. We have enough playmakers to make plays. We just have to value the ball a little bit better, and we to get back to being aggressive offensively. I think we got a little timid late.”
Bryant led Oak Grove (17-5, 6-2) with 17 points, Thomsen added 15 and Gavin Richardson had 10.