TISHOMINGO — Overcoming a 24-point third-quarter deficit didn’t seem like a realistic possibility at the time to Tishomingo senior Alex Patton.
“Most of us probably didn’t feel like there was, but in our hearts, we knew there was a chance that we could come back if we just got in the game and played our way,” he said.
With every steal that Tishomingo forced off its zone defense, every rushed shot that it forced Dickson to take and every rebound that it grabbed, the Indians gradually chipped away at the Comets’ lead.
Patton’s steal and running jump shot with 1:35 remaining forged Tishomingo into the lead for good, sealing an eventual 64-61 home win that left Dickson stunned.
“It was feeling horrible (when Tishomingo trailed by 24 points), but we just tried to keep our head in there and stay positive the whole time,” Patton said. “It felt so good. It was such a relief.”
The mood was much different in the early going.
It appeared that Dickson was going to run away with this Lake Country Conference contest and beat Tishomingo for the second time in six days — Tishomingo edged Dickson by one point only six days earlier in the fifth-place game of the Indians’ home tournament.
The Comets couldn’t miss from the floor in the first half.
Dickson senior Clinton Bland set the tone for the Comets’ blistering shooting behind the arc, making three of his team’s seven first-half 3-pointers. His third make — with 4:05 remaining before halftime — gave the Comets a commanding 33-12 lead. He finished with 13 points.
Hunter Palesano led all Comets in scoring with 17 points. Ty Frasier hit double figures with 12 points.
With the final seconds ticking off the clock, Dickson coach Billy Haley loudly counted down the final seconds. The mental clock in Brenton Bland’s head went off. And is it no surprise the shot would be a 3-pointer? He pulled up from the right wing and sank a trey for a 38-19 lead for the Comets.
All of Dickson’s success came with Tishomingo playing man-to-man defense.
Palesano’s short jumper with 6:35 remaining in the third quarter — used a spin move to set up the shot — for Dickson’s biggest advantage of the game at 41-19.
The Indians proceeded to abandon that defensive approach in favor of a zone defense.
That schematic change did wonders for Tishomingo.
“We just probably played the best zone defense that we have all year,” Tishomingo senior Rilee Baker said. “We were getting lucky and making them freak out and turn the ball over.”
All of those defensive stops set up a big 32-14 scoring edge for the Indians in the fourth quarter. Baker and Patton played big roles in the late surge. Baker netted 14 of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter. Patton tallied 12 of his 15 points during that span of play before fouling out with under two minutes to play.
“I was just getting lucky,” Baker said. “I was in the right position. My teammates were getting me good steals and were feeding me. I was just in the right place at the right time.”
A two-man trap led to a steal and subsequent three-point play by Baker with 1:42 remaining in regulation to knot the score at 58-all. Patton’s steal and running jump shot on the ensuing possession untied the score.
“I told them before the third quarter, ‘It’s going to go one of two ways: We’re going to get run out of the gym by 40 (points) or you’re going to have some fight these first two or three minutes and then you’re going to come back and make it a ball game,’” Tishomingo coach Niki Walker said. “ ... When we finally got the lid off the basket, we were fine.”
Dickson 20 18 9 14 — 61
Tishomingo 6 13 13 32 — 64
Dickson: Hunter Palesano 17, Clinton Bland 13, Ty Frasier 12, Tyler Jennings 7, Brenton Bland 6, Garrett Watterson 6.
Tishomingo: Rilee Baker 22, Devin Dickerson 16, Alex Patton 15, Jason Lawley 4, Nick Wilson 4, Nathan Northcutt 3.
Dickson: 7 (C. Bland 3, B. Bland 2, Frasier, Palesano)
Tishomingo: 1 (Baker)
Dickson: 14-22; Tishomingo: 16-22