The Cullman Times
COLD SPRINGS —
If Tim Willoughby wasn't already graying, he would be by the end of this basketball season.
The Cold Springs coach was treated to yet another heart-stopper Friday night at Jesse George Gymnasium. However, he wasn’t about to complain, not after a gutsy 59-54 overtime triumph over Holy Family.
The sub-regional win punched the Class 2A No. 9 Eagles’ ticket to the Northwest Regional Tournament at Wallace State. They’ll take a 10-game win streak and 22-9 record into Wednesday’s 4:30 p.m. tip-off against Tanner (18-8).
“It was as nerveracking a game as I’ve ever been a part of,” Willoughby said. “For three and a half quarters, we chased that team and could never quite catch them. After so much of that, I started to think, ‘Are we ever actually going to get over the hump?’ It was late when we finally did.
“Oh man, it was unbelievable.”
The Blue and Gold trailed 21-16, 29-27 and 38-37 at each quarter break. They took their first lead in the final frame, setting off a back-and-forth affair the rest of the way out.
Cold Springs trimmed a late five-point deficit to three and then went to work with a defensive press. It paid off, as Josh Freeman swiped a steal and kicked it ahead to Triston Chambers, who buried a 3-pointer with 13 seconds left on the clock.
“It brought the house down,” Willoughby said of the game-tying trey.
Overtime was owned by Cold Springs.
Senior Layne Rice shook off his earlier struggles and stepped up when it was needed most, extending the Eagles’ cushion with a clutch 3 that all-but iced the contest.
The Blue and Gold outscored Holy Family 7-2 in the extra period.
“That was the one,” Willoughby said of Rice’s late heroics. “That put us up five, and they never caught us.”
Chambers and Freeman proved to be quite the sophomoric tandem with 25 and 20 points, respectively. Rice was next in line with nine points, followed by Adam Carney (three) and Tyler Rice, two.
Tanner has been historically successful against Cold Springs. The Rattlers have ended the Eagles’ season four times since 2008, including three instances on the regional stage.
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.