Cavaliers fall short in overtime thriller
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
In a classic, back-and-forth thriller between cross-state foes, it was the Lanett Panthers staging a furious rally in overtime to upend the Callaway Cavaliers 73-72 on Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers appeared to be in control after taking a 72-67 lead with 1:38 to play, but the Panthers closed the game on a 6-0 run to earn the hard-earned road win.
Kintavious Dozier scored five straight points to pull Lanett even, and Bryant Story made a free throw with four seconds left to give the visiting team a one-point lead.
Javontay Boddie’s half-court at the buzzer was online, but the ball bounced harmlessly off the rim.
It was a tough loss for Callaway, but it was nonetheless a special night for first-year head coach Andre Johnson, who is a Lanett graduate.
Johnson and Lanett head coach Trentavious McCants were teammates at Lanett and remain good friends, and it was their first meeting as opposing coaches.
“Definitely a lot of love shown,” Johnson said. “That’s my hometown, and the head coach, coach McCants, that’s my best friend. We grew up together. I see both of these programs going nowhere but up.”
Johnson clearly would have preferred to have bragging rights over his good friend, but he still feels it’s a game that will help his team.
“When you run into teams that are that athletic, and that equipped, now we’ll know how to handle it down the road,” Johnson said.
For Lanett, it was a familiar feeling.
In the first game of the season, Lanett tied it on a 3-pointer at the end of regulation before beating Troup 73-67 in overtime.
“I’ve got some dogs on the floor,” said McCants, who like Johnson is in his first season as a head coach. “They showed that in this game, and the first game of the year (against) Troup that they’ve got some fight in them. Anytime we got into those types of dogfights and they show that they can come out on top, it’s beneficial for the program.”
Dozier, a senior, had a monster night for Lanett with 30 points, and he had eight of his team’s 11 points in overtime.
Travaunta Abner added 16 points for Lanett, and Caden Story added 10 points.
For Callaway, it was seniors Demetrius Coleman and Javontay Boddie leading the way with 25 points apiece, and they combined for 18 points in the fourth quarter to help their team rally from an eight-point deficit to force overtime.
Lanett started quickly and had an 18-9 lead after the first quarter, but Callaway fought back to take a 25-23 lead at the half.
Lanett reclaimed control in the third quarter to take a 47-40 lead, but there was a long way to go. The Cavaliers, down by eight early fourth quarter, were still trailing by seven when Boddie drained a 3-pointer to make it a 55-51 game with 3:58 to play.
The Cavaliers kept coming, and they took their first lead of the fourth quarter on a Boddie basket with 1:04 to play, and they went ahead 63-59 when Exavious Reed scored after pulling down an offensive rebound with 13 seconds left.
Dozier converted a three-point play on the other end to get the Panthers within one, and after a turnover, Dozier made one free throw to tie it with six seconds left, and it was on to overtime after the Cavaliers couldn’t convert on their end.
It was tied at 66-66 in overtime when the Cavaliers went on a 6-1 run to take a 72-67 lead with 1:38 remaining.
While the Cavaliers had some costly turnovers down the stretch, the Panthers got some clutch play from Dozier to get back in it.
Dozier’s three-point play with 31 seconds left got the Panthers within two, and Dozier scored again with 12 seconds left to tie it.
Following a turnover, Story was fouled going to the basket, and he made the first free throw to give Lanett the lead with four seconds left, and he missed the second free throw, and Callaway got the rebound.
Following a timeout, Boddie’s shot just missed to end the suspense.
“You need games like this because they’re going to help us down the road,” McCants said. “We love coming to Georgia to play. They always give us great games. It’ll help us when we get to the area tournament, and down the line when we get to the state tournament.”
Callaway will get another shot at Lanett on Saturday when the two teams play in Alabama.
First up, Callaway will put its 5-0 region record on the line when it visits Temple on Friday.
“We’ll try to take care of Temple on Friday, and we’ll see them again on Saturday,” Johnson said.