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MILTON (GA) – The Milton Eagles have been perfect in overtime games this season and sophomore Kanaan Carlyle kept it that way against Cherokee.
With the clock approaching zero, Carlyle (12 points) pulled up from behind the arc and banked in the go-ahead 3-pointer with three seconds left, resulting in a 66-63 overtime win over the visiting Warriors on January 26.
In a contest which neither team had a region loss, Milton (17-2) appeared to be on the verge of its sixth consecutive double-digit victory after junior Bruce Thornton (19 points, seven assists) found Carlyle for an alley-oop jam for a 49-35 score during the closing moments of the third quarter.
But Cherokee (16-4) has the Xavier commit Elijah Tucker, who went to work in the fourth scoring nine of his 30 points during a critical 20-8 run. The 6-7 forward worked out of the triple threat from the elbow and couldn’t be kept out of the lane. He also kept the defense honest by knocking down mid-range jumpers in regulation and overtime.
“Elijah is a really good basketball player and we knew that coming in,” Milton coach Allen Whitehart said. “He hurt us tonight.”
Seniors Ethan Pickett (nine points) and Taihland Owens (nine points, nine rebounds) were major contributors offensively and defensively as well for the Warriors down the stretch, and Owens tied the game at 57 with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
Milton almost ended the game in regulation but senior Broc Bidwell’s floater was off the mark at the buzzer.
In the extra session with junior Kendall Campbell (17 points) sidelined due to leg cramps and knee pain, sophomore Lebbeus Overton (14 points, 17 rebounds) carried the offense and converted a layup for a 63-61 edge after receiving a pass from Thornton, who was seated on the floor.
After a jumper by Owens pulled the Warriors back even, Carlyle got a solid screen from Overton and elevated for the winning jumper over the outstretched hand of Tucker.
“We figured Bruce would pull two and he did and that’s when he got the throwback for Kanaan to get the open look,” Whitehart said.
Before the final three seconds expired, sophomore Tayden Owens (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists) got a shot off inside of half court but it was well short.
Milton improved to 3-0 in overtime games and is currently on a 15-game winning streak.
In the first half when the Eagles built their lead, Campbell and Thornton both scored 13 points. The 6-7 Campbell had three dunks, including a two-handed finish that left sophomore Cam Pope in a helpless position under the rim.
“[Bruce] is steady,” Whitehart said. “He is going to Ohio State for a reason. I expect more out of all my guards. I didn’t think he or [Kanaan] had their best effort tonight but it was good enough to get a win and give us a cushion in the region so I’ll take that. That was a great test for us and they are a really good basketball team so I expect it to be the same at their place.”
The rematch is scheduled for February 2 at Cherokee’s gym in Canton.