Nearing the final stretch of a long, grinding basketball season, double overtime wasn’t exactly the ideal scenario for Eisenhower nor Andover Central on Tuesday night. But Eisenhower made baskets instead of excuses when it counted in an exhausting but entertaining 89-81 win at home.
“It’s February. We can’t be tired. We don’t have time to be tired,” Eisenhower coach Steve Blue said. “We can be tired in April.”
The two teams treated their fans to an offensive gem that produced highlight drives, clutch shots and quality action on nearly every possession. The game wasn’t decided until nine ties and 11 lead changes gave way to Eisenhower’s surge in the second overtime.
“Legs were a factor for everybody,” Tigers senior guard Trevon Evans said. “Shots were falling short, and that’s why coach told me to just keep taking it to the basket.”
Evans emerged the victor of the game’s premier one-on-one match up with Andover Central sophomore Darraja Parnell. The two talented guards enjoyed moments of dominance throughout the night. Parnell was limited to six points in the first half but finished with a game-high 41, including two clutch free throws with 33 seconds left in regulation that sent the game to overtime.
Parnell nearly won the game in the first overtime with two more free throws that gave Andover Central the lead with 11.4 seconds left. But Evans, who scored 15 of his 30 points in the overtime periods, drove the length of the floor to tie the game with five seconds left and force the second overtime.
The final four minutes made the difference as Evans scored 10 points and Parnell committed four turnovers on his team’s final four possessions.
“He’s a tough guard, because he can take advantage of you if you put a big guy on him or a guard. It doesn’t matter,” Blue said of Parnell. “But we slowed him down just enough in the second overtime. We did a nice job of finding a way to make a couple of stops.”
While Evans came through down the stretch, Eisenhower was carried for much of the game by the broad shoulders of 6-foot-6 senior Matt Morris, who was unmatched inside. Morris’ rebounding efforts and 26 points gave the home team a distinct advantage in half-court sets.
“It was a heck of a battle all night,” Morris said. “In a game like that you’re just running on adrenaline. My mentality is to score if I have the ball and to get the ball if I don’t have the ball.”
While Eisenhower established the momentum in the paint, Andover Central ruled the perimeter, led by Christian DeYoung. The senior shooting guard hit 7 of his team’s 10 three-pointers and finished with 23 points.
Andover Central — C. DeYoung 23, C. Forbes 9, J. Cole 4, D. Parnell 41, Z. Lock 2. B. Schaffer 2.
Eisenhower — T. Evans 30, D. Southworth 9, B. Stemple 6, B. Strunk 7, T. Buchanan 11, M. Morris 26.