COOS BAY — Overtime seemed inevitable but Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Anel Alagic had a different plan on Saturday night as the Lakers hosted Mount Hood.
On an inbound play with 2.2 seconds left to play, Alagic darted to the corner where he knocked down a game-winning 3-pointer that left .3 seconds on the clock.
“Once I let it go, I knew it was going in — not to sound too cocky or anything. It felt good,” said Alagic after SWOCC’s 91-88 victory. Alagic finished with 16 points and went four-of-seven on 3-pointers.
The Saints had their own chance to win the game with 2.2 seconds on the clock. Needing to go the length of the court to break the tie, an errant inbound pass hit the top of the ceiling making it SWOCC basketball.
“I kind of thought we were going to overtime,” said SWOCC head coach Trevor Hoppe. “Then we get the ball back.”
Hoppe dialed up the final play — one the team has run throughout the year that generates three different scoring options — and the players on the court made some last-second adjustments.
“I asked Anel — because we play the same position on that play — I said, ‘Do you want it or do you want me to take it?’ He said he wanted it. So I was confident in my teammate,” said SWOCC’s Mack Tarver Jr., who had a game-high 29 points on Saturday.
After faking a pass to Terryn Mosley in the key, inbounder Jael Vaughn found a wide-open Alagic in the corner.
“I knew if I went to the corner I was going to be open,” said Alagic. “(We’re) trying to make the playoffs, that’s the goal, and this is a big step for us.”
Before the Lakers were in a position to win the game, SWOCC trailed by six points — its biggest deficit of the game — with just under five minutes to play. Coming off the bench De’Shawn Keperling started the comeback for the Lakers with a putback lay-up.
Then it was Vaughn’s time to take over. After starting 1-of-6 from the field in the first half, the do-it-all point guard put his stamp on the game. On back-to-back possessions Vaughn got the ball in the corner, beat his defender off the dribble and got fouled as he made a lay-up. After he converted the second three-point play, the Lakers had an 84-83 lead.
“He’s a competitor. He’s just got a competitive spirit and you know he doesn’t get rattled and he’s just going to keep playing and keep coming at guys and that’s what he did,” Hoppe said of Vaughn. Vaughn made four-of-six from the field in the second half and finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks.
Mt. Hood regained the lead via a free throw from Leonard Dixon, who finished with a team-high 24 points including five 3’s in the first half, and a lay-up from Davion Stringer to put the Saints up 86-84. But it was Vaughn again, this time with a no-look assist to Mosley for two points. Mosley finished with 17 points.
A pair of free throws from both SWOCC’s Tarver and Mount Hood’s Jahville Collins in the final 30 seconds of play tied the game at 88. The late foul shots from Tarver were part of his big scoring night, but it was his production early that got the team started.
Scoring 11 points in the first 5 ½ minutes of the game, including three 3-pointers in that stretch, Tarver helped the Lakers build a 10-point first half lead. The Saints stormed right back with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 20 and from that point forward, neither team led by more than six points. There were 13 lead changes and 10 ties.
“Just a lot of heart and a lot of togetherness,” Hoppe said of the win. “You know, we’ve been battling all year long and we’ve been together but it’s just nice to see them continue to work, continue to fight and have that heart.”
Having lost to Mount Hood 104-86 at the start of NWAC play, the Lakers are hopeful that the rest of the league season can follow a similar tone.
“We want to take it one game at a time and that’s what we did today,” said Alagic. “Made sure we were playing hard today, controlling one game at a time. We’re trying to win every game from here on out so that’s how we took it.”
SWOCC has a bye on Wednesday and travels to Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., on Saturday. The Lakers return home against Lane Community College on Wednesday, Feb. 12.