Scrapper fans received four free minutes of basketball Friday night as Nashville defeated Arkansas Baptist 56-52 in overtime in the regular-season finale at Scrapper Arena.
The Scrappers led 20-19 at halftime and 34-30 at the end of the third quarter before Baptist came back and took the lead near the end of regulation. Cameron Alexander tied the score at 49-49 with a free throw to send the game to overtime. From there, Nashville outscored the Eagles 7-3 for the District 7-4A win.
“It was a big win for us Friday night,” Coach Damon Williams said. “Baptist is a really good team.”
Nashville will enter this week’s district tournament at Scrapper Arena as the league’s fourth-seeded team. The Scrappers will play their first game Thursday at 5:30 p.m. against the winner of today’s contest between number five Malvern and number eight Robinson. If the Scrappers win Thursday, they will automatically advance to the regional tournament next week at Scrapper Arena.
The win over Baptist Friday night didn’t come easy. Nashville trailed 10-4 at the end of the first quarter. However, the Scrappers fought their way back in during the second quarter and outscored the Eagles 16-9 to close out the first half.
The Scrappers extended their lead in the third quarter before Baptist outscored Nashville 19-15 in the fourth.
“We were fortunate to get to overtime,” Williams said. “We had the lead and lost it. That takes the air out of you, but we battled back. Maybe this proved to the boys that when they play right, they can win. I’m still trying to teach them how to finish.”
Alexander was the Scrappers’ leading scorer with 17, including the key free throw that sent the contest into overtime. Brandon Shamrock had 14, LaMichael Pettway 13, Darius Hopkins 10 and Trey Hughes 2.
Pettway was the leading rebounder with 13. Alexander had 9.
The Scrappers had 16 turnovers against Baptist and recorded 14 steals.
With the regular season now completed, the team’s attention turns to the district tournament. Opening round games today (Wednesday) include Malvern and Robinson at 5:30 p.m. and Bauxite against Ashdown at 8:30 p.m.
The tournament continues Thursday with the Scrappers playing at 5:30 p.m. Number 3 Baptist will play at 8:30 p.m. against the Bauxite/Ashdown winner.
If the Scrappers win Thursday, they will play top-seeded Arkadelphia Friday at 5:30 p.m. in the semi-finals. The winner advances to the championship game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; the loser plays in the consolation game Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Central Arkansas Christian, the second-place team, will play at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
The top four teams from the district tournament will advance to the regional Feb. 26-March 1 in Nashville.
The Scrappers dropped a road game Feb. 11 at Malvern as the Leopards got past Nashville 63-59.
The teams were tied at 26 at halftime, and Nashville held a 45-44 lead after the third quarter. The Leopards put up 19 points to Nashville’s 14 in the final quarter to take the win.
Turnovers were a problem for the Scrappers as they lost the ball 21 times.
Nashville recorded 27 rebounds, including 7 from Alexander.
Pettway was the leading scorer for Nashville with 21 points. Alexander added 18, with 9 from Hopkins, 6 from Shamrock and 5 from Hughes.