As the game condensed itself into an extra four minute period, then another and yet another, the intrigue grew, but Nash Central’s chances of winning diminished.
The Bulldogs’ lack of depth was brought to the forefront Tuesday night against Wilson Fike when their best rebounder, Daniel Pittman, fouled out in the second overtime.
From the bench, Pittman and his teammates watched Wilson Fike grab an offensive rebound and hit a clutch three-pointer to tie the contest before ultimately taking control of the game in the third overtime.
By the time the buzzer sounded in Nash Central’s 85-80 loss in triple overtime, the Bulldogs had very little remaining in the way of energy.
Neither did their coach, Renny Taylor, who gasped his way through 44 minutes of encouraging, reprimanding and ultimately settling on another Big East loss.
“I wish we could have grabbed that rebound,” Taylor said. “It was a long rebound. It wasn’t like we didn’t go for it. He (MyQuan Gooding) grabbed it and nailed (the shot).”
Wilson Fike’s Gooding finished with 26 points to lead all scorers, and with his squad trailing, 74-71, with less than five seconds remaining in the contest, he pulled down a rebound from the foul line, dribbled to the three-point line and rose lifted his lanky frame above Nash Central’s defense to hit the game-tying shot.
The Golden Demons (16-2, 3-2) scored the first seven points of the third overtime to make sure such drama wasn’t necessary in the final frame.
Nash Central, playing in its first game since Jan. 24, had plenty of encouraging signs, including a defense that played well in a man-to-man setup for the duration of the game.
Balanced contributions came from Pittman (17 points) and Wayne Sanders (19 points), but the result was the same.
“We’ve had a lot of one-, three- and five-point losses,” said Taylor, who has been battling a respiratory illness since last week. “We have to figure out how to finish games off.”
Michaela Nelms looked as if she had been in a fight instead of a basketball game.
Her neck had three long scratch marks, her left hip was bruised and her left elbow hurt, too.
“I got beat up,” Nelms said, cracking a smile.
Nelms and the Bulldogs received more of a battle than they bargained for after taking a 17-point lead early in the second half.
The Bulldogs held Wilson Fike’s E.J. Proctor to a pair of long missed three-pointers down the stretch to hold off the Demon Deacons for an important league victory.
Nash Central (13-4, 2-2) will look to make up lost ground in the conference by playing Southern Nash, Northern Nash and Rocky Mount before the week comes to a close.
The game was too close to call for much of the fourth quarter because Nash Central could not hit its shots, and Proctor (24 points) and the Golden Demons (8-10, 0-5) nearly stole their first conference victory.
Nelms was active all over the court – therefore the scars – and scored 13 points.
Ni’Ya Styles led the Bulldogs with 17 points.
“We missed a lot of easy shots around the basket,” Bulldogs coach Terri Cash said. “I think sometimes we unselfishly overpass the basketball.”
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org