Antonio Wade’s Hulk-like hands gripped his skull as if he were to pry through his hairless skin.
His Lady Bulldogs had just let Early County’s Tynicia McCoy run down the floor and score a game-tying, buzzer-beater layup to end regulation in Thursday’s 1-AA semifinal after Thomasville seemingly won the game on a Danisha Jones basket with seven seconds remaining.
Early County cruised to a 57-48 overtime win on a day where neither team led by more than five points through the intended four quarters.
“We didn’t play defense at the end,” Wade said. “The one thing we talked about all week was finishing every possession, and the girls forgot to finish.”
Wade added that the Lady Bulldogs executed the final offensive possession perfectly. He dialed up a post pattern to feed Jones the ball in the lower right panel of the paint.
And she did. But amid the semi-celebration, McCoy was halfway down the court with overtime on her mind.
“The girls, they told me they like to play overtime games,” said Early coach Kimmie Graham. “For some reason, when we go to overtime we come out and win the ballgame. We felt like we could run away with it.”
Wade said that he preached confidence despite the calamity, but that he understands why it was tough to transmit.
“As coaches, we talk about mental toughness all the time. But being so young, key positions like that can be demoralizing and take energy from a team.”
“But still yet, in overtime, we missed opportunities and they made theirs. That was the difference.”
We didn’t deserve to win because of not taking care of our business.”
The Lady Bulldogs were plagued by 24 missed layups in Thursday’s loss, including six in the extra period.
“And I’m talking uncontested layups,” Wade said. “You can’t beat any good teams if you can’t hit uncontested shots.”
Free throws also evoked headaches, as Thomasville notched under 50 percent from the line in the final two periods.
Wade gauged that it would be a long ride home and back for the Lady Bulldogs. They play at 4 p.m. tomorrow in the consolation game against Cook County.
Thomasville still has much to play for this season. The state tournament is approaching, and the Lady Bulldogs could still secure as high as the No. 3 seed. Most, if not all, of their games will be on the road, but Wade said that particular bracket yields modest, but not overbearing, competition.
“The [state] playoffs are certainly on my mind after today, but I’ve got to focus on getting our girls ready for tomrrow,” Wade said. “That field we’re playing for is is not too bad.”
But Friday comes first.
Thomasville and Cook split the regular season series between the two, with the home team winning each. The combined score of both games was 81-77 in favor of the Lady Bulldogs.
Today’s game tips at 4 p.m.