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HUNT CENTER, PARIS — There was a full moon out, and the game was between Navarro and Paris.
Delvin Dickerson is the only member of the Paris Junior College men’s basketball team who was here a year ago, but the Dragons’ pulsating 75-72 victory Saturday night underscored the long-standing rivalry between the two teams.
Joe Haynes led Paris with 16 points, most of them in the second half. PJC Coach Chuck Taylor stuck with him despite the Detroit freshman picking up his fourth foul just 5:17 into the second half.
Haynes kept taking it right into the throat of the Navarro defenders, and his shots kept falling, even as he was tumbling to the floor as well.
Typical of this was when Haynes threw up a 3-pointer with 5-1/2 minutes to play and the Dragons leading by 65-63. The shot bounced away but Haynes darted in to pick off the rebound and throw it back in, this time for a score.
Haynes made six field goals, including one 3-pointer, and was a perfect 3-for-3 at the free throw line.
Jovan Austin, playing with a headache, and Trevon Seymore added 13 points each. Xavier Dupree, a 6-9 freshman from Houston, stepped up with his best game of the season, hitting three of PJC’s 10 three-pointers and finishing with 9 points. Qua Doster had another good game for the Dragons, hitting a couple of timely 3-pointers.
Jamar Goodwin led five Navarro players in double figures with 14 points. Jaleel Cousins had 13 points, Duan Wright 12, Troy Jones 11, and Chris Boleware 10.
PJC hit eight of its 3-pointers in the first half, building a lead as much as 13 points (39-26), despite Navarro’s getting off to a 6-0 start.
The Dragons answered that early run with a 9-0 streak, and PJC led at the half 39-28.
Navarro was having none of that, however, and the Bulldogs took just 4:17 of the second half to pull into a 43-43 tie following an opening 14-3 run.
From there on in, it was game on.
Navarro had several slam dunks in the game from the 6-7 Jones and the 6-10 Cousins, and the Bulldogs controlled the boards in the second half, fueling their comeback.
Navarro didn’t have any 3-pointers in the first half, but made four in the second half — two by the 5-9 Boleware and one each from Goodwin and Shannon Lilly.
Paris led 73-67 with 2:36 to go, but Navarro went on a 5-0 mini-run to make it 73-72 with 1:15 to play.
Austin went to the free throw line twice in the next 41 seconds, each time making one of two, to widen PJC’s lead to75-72.
That left Navarro with 26 seconds, and clearly the Bulldogs’ mind was on a tying 3-pointer.
Simultaneously, on the other bench, stopping the 3-pointer was foremost on the minds of Coach Taylor and the Dragons.
“Guard the line,” Taylor told his players. “Give up a two if you have to, but don’t let them make a three.”
And Navarro had nothing close to a shot and finally turned the ball over to Haynes with two seconds left, and the Paris victory went into the books.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra