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NH wins late-night, 5OT affair

January 30, 2008
It took 52 minutes of basketball before North Harrison pulled away in the fifth overtime Friday night to put away West Washington, 76-69.

With tired legs and a few starters who exhausted their foul limits seated on the bench, North Harrison utilized a quick Devin Southard lay-up and near perfect free throws in the fifth extra session to pick up their third win on the season.

"The adrenaline was rushing, I wasn't worried about it," North Harrison senior Cody Johnson said of the wear and tear of the lengthy game. "I just wanted to get that third win."

Johnson led North Harrison with 19 points and dished seven assists along with playing all but a handful of minutes in the game. He sat for a brief minute in the first half, but wasn't relieved until there was 0.8 seconds on the clock in the fifth overtime.

"We were looking the other day and he's actually, over the past four or five games, averaging more minutes than there are in a game," North Harrison coach Chris Martin said. "I thought that if I could find him a minute here or there, but once we got into the fourth quarter, we weren't buying minutes from anybody."

Johnson logged plenty of minutes, but the maturity of the younger Cougars showed their worth, including Southard. In the final overtime, North Harrison buried all six of its free-throw attempts in the final minute to stretch its lead, something the Cougars struggled to do in the previous extra sessions.

"The young guys really stepped up, Devin Southard, Chad Eveslage and T.J (Sanders) hit a couple big shots," Johnson said.

The path to each overtime had its share of drama. At the end of regulation, North Harrison let a four-point lead slip away in the final two minutes. A 7-0 West Washington run erased the lead and any Cougar momentum. The final point of the run came on a Chase Thompson free throw after North Harrison's Jim Bob Schuler fouled out. Yet, with 35 second left, Jordan Byrne kicked out a pass to an open Sanders, who drilled a three to tie the game. Each team had a shot for the win, but both shots were missed.

"I haven't hit a shot in forever. Then, when I finally hit one, it really means something," Sanders said.

In the second overtime, Thompson opened with a West Washington trey, forcing North Harrison to play catch-up. West Washington maintained a three-point advantage when Thompson put in an offensive put-back making it 49-46 with 1:26 on the clock. In response, Johnson came up with a big shot of his own, drilling a three-pointer from the right side. North Harrison had two opportunities to win in the closing minute, but couldn't do it.

The second overtime was less dramatic. Both teams managed just two points, North Harrison's coming early on a Byrne bucket and West Washington's coming on a pair of free-throws with a minute left. Byrne fouled out for the Cougars in the second overtime, leaving North Harrison short two starters.

There was hard luck for the Cougars in the third overtime. Sanders opened with a trey to spark the homecoming crowd once again. Following the three, Ethan Trueblood banked a three-pointer off the glass, dashing the hopes of the home team pulling away. Johnson buried another trey for North Harrison, pushing the lead to 57-54. The teams swapped a series of free throws until North Harrison managed a 60-58 lead with 11.5 seconds left. Yet, West Washington didn't give in. Martin Chastain drove the length of the floor, then put in a running floater, forcing a fourth overtime.

"You have to give West Washington credit, as well," Martin said. "They could have folded the tent after each overtime, but they just kept coming back and coming back."

In the fourth overtime, Geswein gave North Harrison an early edge once again, with a three-pointer after West Washington made a free throw. The Senators then converted two baskets to forge ahead 65-63. Johnson answered for the Cougars, making a pair of free throw with 1:07 to play. Both teams again had opportunities each to win, but couldn't get it done.

In the fifth overtime, North Harrison (3-12) finally prevailed. It was the third win of the season for the Cougars, all of which have come at home and involved at least one overtime. Friday, it took a complete team effort to pull it out, even though it took a school record five overtimes. North Harrison committed just 12 turnovers in the 52 minutes.

Schuler finished with 13 points before fouling out. Byrne and Sanders also reached double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively.

"Honestly, in the huddle, our legs were tired, but when we went back on the court, we stepped our game up," Johnson said. "We wanted this win bad, homecoming, big crowd, we just really wanted it. I know Jim Bob and Jordan wanted it, even though they fouled out."

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