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ATHENS, Texas — The problem for the Paris Dragons this basketball season is that the games last a couple minutes two long.
Paris led virtually the entire contest against Trinity Valley Community College on Saturday, but the Cardinals wiped out Paris’ 61-56 lead with an 8-0 closing run and register a 64-61 victory Saturday.
Paris has suffered road losses this season — also losing at Navarro, Tyler, and Kilgore when they faltered in the closing minutes. They also lost leads late in losses at home to Angelina, Lee and Navarro.
The Dragons went into the game on kind of a roll and despite a disappointing first half of the year, hoped to move up in the standings to as high as a No. 6 seed for the upcoming Region XIV tournament at UT-Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center from March 5-9.
Instead, the Dragons now are looking at maybe a No. 10 or 11 seed.
“I like the effort and the energy from the guys. We’ve just got to learn how to finish. We’ve got to learn how to win on the road. The road has been our Achilles heel all year,” Dragons head coach Chuck Taylor said.
“That white line out there has been killing us all year,” he added, speaking of the free throw line, Actually, neither team covered itself with glory there. Paris made 14-of-23, and Trinity Valley made 15-of-24.
Paris’ Eddie Leal led all scorers with 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Anthony Adams and Mo Mitchell added 10 points each. Karon Phillips and Mike Miller had 10 points each to pace Trinity Valley.
With the win, Trinity Valley improved to 18-10 overall and 9-8 in conference. Paris fell to 14-15 and 8-10.
Adams made two free throws for the 61-56 lead with 2:17 to play.
Octavius Ellis, the Cardinals’ 6-10 freshman from Memphis, Tenn., was fouled, and when he missed his first charity shot, that made him 1-of-7 from the free throw line for the game. His second shot bounced twice before falling in, and Paris’ lead was narrowed to 61-57 with 1:55 remaining.
The Dragons worked time off the clock, and Adams had a jump shot from the free throw line that bounced away. Trinity Valley rebounded.
Trinity Valley’s Tim Allen came through with a clutch 3-pointer from the right wing with 1:04 to play, cutting the Dragons’ lead to 61-60.
The Cardinals’ aggressive defense harassed Paris all day, and another Dragon turnover was about to occur. As Paris brought the ball downcourt, Ellis stepped in front of a pass from Adams to Delvin Dickerson near mid-court.
Dickerson held out his hands to complain he was fouled, as Ellis raced alone down court and slam-dunked the ball for a 62-61 Trinity Valley lead with 38.6 seconds to play.
With three seconds difference between the game clock and shot clock, Adams dribbled the ball until 11 seconds were showing on the shot clock. He passed inside to Dickerson, who shot and missed. The ball was about to go out of bounds, but Trinity Valley “saved” it inbounds — but it ended up in the hands of Leal near the goal.
As he went up to attempt a go-ahead basket, he was fouled by Trinity Valley’s Carl Porter.
This could not be bad, right? Leal is Paris’ best free throw shooter. In addition to six goals already, including three 3-pointers, he had smoothly made both free throws he had attempted.
Pairis trailed 62-61, and Paris fans are thinking the first free throw will tie the game and the second one will give the Dragons a one-point lead with just 10.5 seconds left in the game.
Leal’s first shot bounced off to the right. Oops.
The second shot also bounced away, and Trinity Valley pulled down the rebound.
Allen had the ball, and Paris fouled him, because it had to. But he was bent over in pain. It appeared maybe he had gotten a finger in the eye. After about a minute, he still couldn’t see, and came out of the game.
In such situations, the opposing coach can specify who shoots the free throw in place of whoever was supposed to
Paris chose Ellis, who at this point was 2-for-8 in the game, as you recall.
He made both free throws. Go figure.
That gave Trinity Valley a 64-61 lead and Cardinal fans cheered.
The Dragons had one last chance. With Trinity Valley pulling back, the Dragons quickly came across the midcourt line and called time out with 4.7 seconds to play.
Taylor huddled with his players on the sideline, and when play resumed, onto the court came the Dragons’ three best 3-point shooters — Leal, Mike Harmon and Antonio Arnold — plus Adams and Dickerson.
Arnold threw it in, but the Dragons experienced the same difficulty they had all game trying to throw the ball in. Arnold couldn’t find anybody open, and Adams finally went into the back court to take the pass. As the clock ticked down, Adams dribbled back into Paris’ end of the court …. 4 seconds …. 3 seconds …. 2 seconds … and threw up a 3-pointer. It bounced off to the left side, into the hands of a Trinity Valley defender, and the game was over.
Paris will end its regular season at home on Wednesday against Panola, which has lost all 17 of its conference games so far.
In other Region XIV games Saturday, San Jacinto and Jacksonville remained tied for the South Zone lead at 12-5, and Kilgore tightened the North Zone race with a big home victory over Navarro. Kilgore’s post-game celebration culminated in Kilgore campus police spraying Navarro’s locker toom with pepper spray.
Kilgore beat Navarro 88-78, Tyler beat Bossier Parish 90-73, San Jacinto beat Blinn 93-87, Lee beat Lamar-Port Arthur 79-77, and Jacksonville beat Angelina 78-60.
By CHARLES RICHARDS
Paris (14-15, 8-10) – Antonio Arnold 3 0-0 9, Mike Harmon 10-0 3, Anthony Adams 3 4-5 10, Chris Jones 1 1-2 3, Delvin Dickerson 1 2-4 4, Eddie Leal 6 2-4 17, Lamar Walker 0 0-0 0, Sheldon Yearwood 0 1-2 1, Marcus Holt 1 2-2 4, Mo Mitchell 4 2-4 10. Totals: 2014-23 61. 3-Pointers: 7 (Arnold 3, Leal 3, Harmon 1). Fouls: 12.
Trinity Valley (18-10, 9-8) – Octavius Ellis 3 4-10 10, Karon Phillips 5 1-2 12, Jhaustin Thomas 1 2-2 4, Tler Corley 0 0-0 0, Carl Porter 1 0-0 2, Mike Miller 4 3-4 12, Khyree Wooten 0 1-2 1, Joshua Gentry 2 0-0 4, Elbert Jordan1 1-1 3, Tramain Parker 2 2-2 6, Tim Allen 3 1-2 8, Domnique Elliott 1 0-0 2. Totals: 23 15-24 64. 3-Pointers: 3 (Phillips 1, Miller 1, Allen 1). Fouls: 22.
Follow Charles Richards on Twitter: @eParisChas