It took overtime, but the Houlka men managed to outlast South Pontotoc 81-80 last Tuesday.
Houlka and South played hard-nosed, gritty basketball from the opening tip right up until the final buzzer.
Jarell Hamilton scored first to get the Wildcats on the board, but Alex Collins quickly answered for the Cougars, nailing a 3-pointer.
The Cougars executed a pretty triangular-play, as Skylar Holloway dished to Will Reeves, who passed back to Holloway for a bucket.
Parker Blansett nailed a 3-pointer, and Will Reeves pulled down a strong rebound. Blansett would knock down another three, and Stroud Mills had a nice opening quarter with six points. Houlka’s Seth Winter sank a 3-pointer to put the Wildcats ahead 22-19 at the end of the first.
Holloway opened the second quarter with a nifty move. He snapped a bounce pass in to Will Reeves, who faked a defender and hit a layup. Brandon Pulliam hit a jumper for Houlka, but the score remained close.
Parker Blansett hit a 3-pointer for South, and DaShun Berry answered for Houlka. Alex Collins gathered a loose ball and managed to bring South closer with free throws, and the Cougars narrowly trailed 36-35 at halftime.
Holloway bounced a nifty pass into Reeves to open the second half, and after five straight points from Mills, the Cougars led 46-40 with 5:28 to play in the third quarter. The contest was tied 53-53 headed into the final quarter.
A 3-pointer from Houlka’s Seth Winter put the Wildcats back ahead in early in the fourth. After a Houlka score, Aaron Pilcher pulled down a strong defensive rebound with less than a minute to play. Will Reeves put back a hard-fought offensive rebound to push the game into overtime at 74-74.
South got a pair of baskets from Mills, as well as two free throws from Holloway, in overtime, and the two teams were tied 80-all in the closing seconds. Houlka won the contest with no time left on the clock, as DaShun Berry sunk a free throw after being fouled on a last ditch shot from halfcourt.
Berry was the difference for the Wildcats, as the senior finished with a whopping 42 points on the night. Mills led the Cougars with 27 points, while Reeves finished with 20 points.