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Controversy clouds Patriots' 2OT loss to Jays in battle for Middle Six lead

By Michael Smith
The Examiner
Truman senior wing Najee Williams (0) goes off-balance to fire up a one-handed shot over Raytown defenders Diego Hall (10) and Jason Parson, right, in their game Friday at Raytown High School. Williams and the Patriots took the Blue Jays to double overtime before falling 54-51. Raytown took over first place in the Suburban Middle Six conference race with the win.

A unique situation looked like it was going to get Truman boys basketball team back into the race for the Suburban Middle Six championship.

Raytown was up 47-46 with 14.5 seconds left in regulation. After a timeout from Patriots head coach Rod Briggs, star wing Najee Williams missed a floater in the lane. However, forward Runey Hernandez got the rebound and the officials blew the whistle.

More:Williams' show not enough to lift Patriots

It appeared Hernandez was fouled and would get two free throws. However, the referee called a technical foul on the Blue Jays for having six players on the court, awarding Truman two free throws. Hernandez’s free throws on the foul were taken away, though, because the official said the technical happened before the foul.

Truman forward Max Black, the team’s best shooter, missed the first free throw but got the second to bounce off the front iron and in to tie it at 47-all.

Truman senior forward Max Black shoots a free throw on a technical foul in Friday's game at Raytown. The Patriots fell 54-51 in double overtime.

The clock was reset to 14.5 seconds and Williams ended up missing another floater at the buzzer to send it to overtime. Both teams scored four points each in the extra session to send it double overtime. Costly turnovers and missed free throws ended up costing Truman as a key 3-pointer from Raytown senior Terrence Jones gave the Blue Jays a 54-51 home victory.

“You have to understand time and score,” said Briggs, who praised his team’s effort after the game. “We had a four-point lead near the end of regulation and could have iced it away. They were trying to foul us, and we couldn’t get a whistle. We should have been shooting free throws.

“You have to take care of the ball when the game is on the line. We missed a backdoor pass. If we score there, we are up six. We had our chances.”

The loss put a dent into Truman’s bid at a conference title as it is 17-5 overall and 6-2 in the conference. Raytown improved to 18-5 overall and 7-1 in the conference. Both teams have two conference games left. Truman would need Raytown to lose at least one game and the Patriots would have to win out to get a share of the title.

Truman could have taken control of the conference, but it committed costly turnovers at inopportune times. Truman won the tip-off in overtime, but a bad pass led to a steal from Jones and a fast-break basket at the other end. Hernandez, who scored most of his 17 points in the paint, got both of Truman’s baskets in the period of a layup and a putback when his team trailed by two each time.

“He could really do anything he wanted down there,” Briggs said of the 6-foot-6 Hernandez. “He did some great things down there.”

Truman's Runey Hernandez, left, goes up for a shot between Raytown's Cedrick Owens (3) and Diego Hall (10) in the third quarter of their game Friday. Raytown claimed a 54-51 win in double overtime.

Added Hernandez: “Since we have to match their intensity, I had to show my teammates how to match it. My teammates played their heart out today.”

The early turnover allowed Raytown to milk the clock on the final possession of the first overtime, but senior Aaron Franklin missed a step-back three, which sent the contest to another extra period.

Truman won the tip again, but Raytown once again got another steal off a stray pass from Truman on the opening possession. Luckily, for the Patriots, they got the rebound off a missed three from Diego Hall. Williams was fouled on the other end, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 1:50 remaining, giving Raytown another chance to take the lead.

The Blue Jays did not blow their second chance. Jones, who finished with a team-high 23 points, knocked down a corner three against the 2-3 zone to put his team up for good with 22 seconds left. On Truman’s final possession, a bounce pass from Quincy Scott was stolen by Franklin, which sealed the win for Raytown.

“That’s a good shot by Terrence, we have to give him credit,” Briggs said. “That was a big-time shot. We kind of relaxed for a second and he got more of an open look than we wanted.”

Turnovers cost Truman in the second half, as well. The Patriots were kept afloat by Williams in the first half, who scored 15 of his game-high 26 points during that time. Truman led 16-15 at the end of the first period but trailed 30-24 at halftime after the offense went stagnant.

The Patriots led 37-36 at the end of the third after Williams used a spin move to get around a Raytown defender for a driving layup just before the buzzer. Truman appeared to grab control late in the fourth when Black hit a 3-pointer from left wing to put the Patriots up 47-43.

Truman then got the ball back after a Raytown turnover and could have put the game away. However, the officials missed a shove to Black as he was dribbling along the sideline. He had to throw a wild pass while falling out of bounds and Raytown’s Jason Parson got the steal, which led to a three on the other end from Khaliq Pulluaim, who had 11 points.

That cut Truman’s lead to 47-46 with 45.4 seconds left. Pulluaim then stole another errant pass from Truman, which led to Franklin’s fast-break dunk on the other end, putting Raytown up one before it eventually went to overtime.

Truman's Quincy Scott (20) leaps to put up a jump shot over Raytown defender Cedrick Owens (3) as Truman's Maddux Bristow (2) moves in during the second half of Friday's game at Raytown. The host Blue Jays prevailed 54-51 in double overtime to grab the Suburban Middle Six Conference lead away from the Patriots.