It was a decided success in the first quarter, but it didn’t last as the visitng Jaguars prevailed in a thrilling 80-75 overtime victory on Tuesday.
Stephenson advanced to face Allatoona in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
The game appeared to be over when the Jaguars’ Montez Sweat banked in a layup with 3.9 seconds left to play to give Stephenson a 70-68 lead. However, after a timeout, Osborne’s D’Haire Haney took the ball the length of the court and rolled in a running layup as time expired in regulation to send the game to overtime tied at 70.
Haney fouled out with 2:08 remaining in the extra session with the game tied at 75, and Stephenson managed to sink free throws for the last 2 minutes while holding Osborne scoreless.
When asked what the difference was in the contest, Osborne coach Emmett Rouse simply said, “Size.”
“Osborne came to play their hearts out,” Stephenson coach Curtis Gilleylen said. “We’re just happy to be moving on. Hats off to Osborne for playing hard and giving us everything we want.”
The Cardinals started the game on a 16-3 run, connecting on 3-of-4 3-point attempts, and was playing with more energy and more speed than their opponents from DeKalb County.
Haney hit a layup as time expired in the first period, giving Osborne a 22-16 lead heading to the second. Stephenson pressed the ball inside in the second quarter, and managed to take a slim lead into halftime at
33-32. Haney finished the game with 29 points including 13-of-15 from the free throw line.
Midway through the third quarter, Stephenson’s Pryce Taylor rushed into the paint and slammed home an emphatic dunk. The play set off a raucous celebration on the Jaguars’ bench, and Taylor was whistled for a technical foul when he taunted his defender face-to-face. The play gave Stephenson a 47-42 lead, but the reliable Haney sunk both ensuing free throws to close the gap to 47-44 after the technical foul. Taylor only saw limited time during the rest of the game.
“He’s got to keep his head,” Gilleylen said. “It’s about winning the game. Playing isn’t about showboating or showing up the other team.”
While Taylor sat for fourth quarter, both teams picked up the pace. With Stephenson up 68-66 with less than a minute left, Osborne’s Kyire Hogan was fouled while attempting a 3-pointer. Hogan converted two of the three free throws, tying the game at 68.
Osborne struggled from long distance after the first quarter, finishing the game missing 13 of their last 15 attempts from behind the arc.