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JONESBORO (GA) – Even though Tucker junior Javon Tatum was obviously the best option in the closing seconds of overtime, coach James Hartry decided to have the ball go where Mundy’s Mill least expected it to.
With less than 3.2 seconds remaining in double OT, Redeetrius Richardson scored the game-tying layup and made the game-winning free throw in a thrilling 70-69 road win for the Tucker Tigers over the Mundy’s Mill Tigers on November 30.
“I knew they would follow Javon so once they followed him, and he took them to the corner, all we had to do was step down and pick away and dive towards the bucket,” Tucker coach James Hartry said. “I thought it would work because Redeetrius had been making turnovers all night but he was able to redeem himself with that and-1.”
Before Richardson’s clutch basket, Tatum, a 6-foot point guard who finished with 35 points, owned the spotlight for most of the contest, scoring from the mid-range areas or right at the rim for Tucker, which improved to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in region play.
“Tatum is a stud,” Hartry said. “It is in his blood. His uncle played for me and put me on the map.”
Mundy’s Mill junior Jordan Black stepped up his play in the second half, scoring 21 of his 23 points after the break to help the Tigers overcome a double-digit deficit.
After John Coats split a pair of foul shots for a 69-67 score with 16 seconds left, Tatum missed a short jumper at the other end but Tucker maintained possession with 3.2 left when the ball landed out of bounds.
With Samari Moore inbounding the ball and Tatum trying his best to get open, Richardson slipped back door on his man and received the ball for a layup, which was his lone field goal, and the foul for a 69-69 score with 1.1 to go. Despite missing two of his previous four attempts from the line, Richardson got this shot to softly hit the front of the rim and roll into the net for a one-point cushion.
“It laid on the rim forever and a day,” Hartry said. “The good Man upstairs was with me. I’m certainly appreciative but Mundy’s Mill is a very fine ball club and they are going to be even tougher when they get their main guy back.”
“That was a big-time play for Redeetrius,” Tatum said. “We executed the play and he finished it, and hit a big free throw at the end.”
After a timeout, Jalen Thrash received the inbounds pass but his full-court heave didn’t come close to going in, resulting in Mundy’s Mill’s first loss of the season.
After nailing a tough jumper to tie the score at 59 with 32 seconds left in the first overtime, Tatum had a chance to end things but his shot did not fall.
Mundy’s Mill had two opportunities to prevent overtime in the closing seconds of regulation. First, Black stole Tucker’s inbounds pass like a safety making an interception on the football field and finished the play with a two-handed dunk while being fouled for a 50-50 score.
But with eight seconds remaining, Black missed the go-ahead free throw. Then with less than five seconds left, David Crawford also missed a long 3-pointer as time expired.
Mundy’s Mill entered the fourth quarter down 41-29 but due to its full-court press and trapping defense, the Tigers used a 19-7 run to pull even at 48-48 with 50 seconds to go. (John Coats nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to cap the spurt.)
“They put a lot of defensive pressure on us and that shook us up a little bit,” Hartry said. “Then they started making big buckets and hard shots–that team never quit.”
In the first half, Tatum matched the entire Mundy’s Mill roster with 15 points and Nicholas Watson scored 11 of his 18 in the first two quarters. Tucker’s 2-3 zone defense also stifled Mundy Mill’s offense during the first 16 minutes of action.
“My teammates trust me,” Tatum said. “I trust my teammates. My coach and teammates put me in a position to score.”