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Sweet 16: Christian County tops Rowan in Double OT to win state title

March 19, 2011
  • Christian County coach Kerry Stovall, right, hugged player Donovan Kates after Colonels won the state championship with a 65-63 triumph over Rowan County in double overtime Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
The Associated Press

LEXINGTON (AP) — Veontae Lewis hit an 18-foot jumper as time expired in double overtime and Christian County beat Rowan County 65-63 to win the Kentucky boys' Sweet 16 state tournament championship Saturday.

The Colonels (25-9) held for the last possession with 1:38 left in the second overtime and called timeout with 12.7 seconds. After the timeout, point guard Anthony Hickey dribbled at the top of the key and started to drive before he passed to Lewis, on the left wing. Lewis got the winning shot off just before time expired.

Christian County coach Kerry Stovall said he designed the play with Lewis on the left wing and Donovan Kates on the right wing. Stovall said the idea was that when Hickey drove, if Rowan County's 2-3 zone collapsed from one side, Hickey would be able to find an open shooter on either wing.

The left side collapsed, leaving Lewis wide open.

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"Was that how I drew it up? The ball going in the hole? Sure," Stovall said. "No, we came out and talked about the fact that we wanted to put Donovan and Veontae on both sides. Anthony wants the ball in that situation. He made a great pass and Veontae put it in the hole."

Christian County won its first-ever Sweet 16 championship in three tries; the Colonels lost in the 1976 and 1979 championship games.

Hickey, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals in the championship game. Throughout the four-game tournament, he averaged 22.5 points, 6.5 steals and 4.8 assists per game.

The Colonels led 23-21 at halftime but could never extend their lead to more than four points in regulation. They led 49-45 with 1:56 left in the fourth quarter but Rowan County tied the game at 49 with 1:10 left. Christian County held for the last shot but a Donovan Kates jumper was wide left.

Rowan County's Darrell Cross hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the first overtime to tie the game at 61 and extend it to a second overtime. Just before that, Adam Wing's 3-pointer was ruled a two. The officials told Vikings coach Shawn Thacker that Wing's foot was on the line. According to a video replay, it appeared his foot was well behind the line but Kentucky rules do not allow officials to review the call.

"That's basketball," Thacker said. "It'd be nice if you had the ability to check that. But we had other opportunities to win it."

Wing, a junior, finished with 31 points for the Vikings (30-6). He shot 8-of-11 from the field and 7-of-8 from 3-point range.

Like its opponent, Rowan County had never won a Sweet 16 championship coming into the game. The Vikings had appeared in four Sweet 16 tournaments prior to 2011 but had never made it past the first round.

Christian County, which trailed by 11 at halftime of its quarterfinal game and by six at the half of its semifinal game, was behind 54-49 with 3:09 in the first overtime. "My guys had the deer-in-the-headlights look," Stovall said.

But they were able to tie the game on five unanswered points from Lewis. He scored one more basket to open the second overtime before his game winner.

"I had no idea the pass was going to come to me," Lewis said. "It was just whoever was open, take the first shot. I was happy to be open in the corner and I knocked it down. Somebody had to win. We both fought to the end and I don't even know what to say. We just got the last shot."

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