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ORSICANA — Navarro College turned back a stirring comeback by Paris Junior College on Saturday, winning 57-54 on Shannon Lilly‘s 3-point shot in the game’s final second.
The contest was another in a long history of defensive battles between the two teams, longtime rivals who were meeting for the 59th time.
With the loss, Paris fell to 17-6 for the season and 10-3 in Region XIV. Navarro moved to within a half game of the Dragons in the North Zone at 17-8 overall and 10-4 in league play.
Zone co-leaders Kilgore and Trinity Valley both won, improving to 12-2 in the conference. Paris has six conference games remaining, while Kilgore, Trinity Valley and Navarro each have five league games left.
Navarro led 26-21 at halftime on the strength of five 3-pointers and a huge rebounding advantage. .
At one point midway through the first half, the Bulldogs kept the ball in play for more than two minutes — missing a shot then coming away the rebound for five straight mini-possessions before finally getting the score on a put-back inside.
The Dragons — like a ship without a compass — clearly missed the leadership of guard Trevon Seymore, whom head coach Chuck Taylor has described as “our glue.” Seymore was sitting out the second game of a 2-game suspension for his involvement in a pre-game altercation 10 days earlier against Trinity Valley.
At one point, as Paris committed unforced turnover after turnover, Taylor shook his head and said, “I don’t know how we’re still in this game.”
Incredibly, it was free throws that kept Paris in the game the first 20 minutes. The Dragons made only 8-of-19 free throws the first half, but committed only four fouls themselves, so Navarro was just 1-for 2 from the line in the first half.
The second half, with each team being whistled a dozen times, Paris made 8-of-14 free throws and Navarro made 9-of-19.
Paris had just two 3-pointers — both by Delvin Dickerson, who had one in each half.
Noucoum Bocoum led Paris with 14 points, followed by Dickerson with 13. Jamar Goodwin was the only Navarro player in double figures, leading a balanced Bulldog attack with 10 points.
Navarro stayed ahead by six to seven points throughout the first half and stretched its lead to 48-39 with six minutes to play.
Paris climbed back into the game on a 9-0 run over the next minute and 25 seconds on two goals apiece by Bocoum and Dickerson.
The run began with the Dragons breaking the Navarro press twice in a row, getting the ball in the hands of Bocoum with passes from the backcourt.
The 6-9 center scored easily the first time, and on the second he passed to a wide-open Dickerson in the left wing for a 3-pointer.
Ronnie White‘s offensive put-back gave the Dragons their first lead, 51-50, with 1:51 left in the game.
Qua Doster made one of two free throws at 1:40 to cap a 13-2 Paris run for a 52-50 lead.
Goodwin scored at 1:20 to knot the game at 1:20, but Joe Haynes made two free throws, and the Dragons took a 54-52 lead into the final minute.
Taylor needed one big stop by his team, and he got it == almost. The Dragons were all over Navarro, and a 3-point attempt at 0:45 wasn’t close, but 6-7 forward Troy Jones was there for the rebound and a basket and a 54-54 tie with 42.9 seconds to play.
Now it was the Bulldogs’ time to shut Paris down, and they did.
Taylor called two timeouts — one with 32.9 seconds to play and 24 seconds left on the 35-second shot clock, and the second with 23.7 seconds left in the game and 16 seconds left on the shot clock.
After the second timeout, point guard Jovan Austin took the inbound pass in the backcourt and dribbled in place as the clock went to 10…9…8…7 seconds left on the shot clock.
Austin threw the ball underneath to Bocoum with a couple of seconds left on the shot clock, but he was heavily guarded and couldn’t get off a clean shot and the shot clock expired.
That gave Navarro the ball with 7.7 seconds left in the game. After a time out, the Bulldogs worked the ball downcourt, guarded closely by Paris. With four seconds left, Navarro got the ball in the hands of Lilly, Region XIV’s most accurate 3-point shooter (50.7 percent).
He dribbled to the top of the circle and, with a defender’s hand in his face, let fly a 3-point shot that swished through the net as the game clock expired on a 57-54 Navarro win.
Paris (17-6, 10-3) — Jovan Austin 3 2-6 8, Delvin Dickerson 3 5-6 13, Brandon Scott 0 0-0 0, Keith Shivers 0 4-9 4, Xavier Dupree 1 0-0 2, Joe Haynes 0 2-2 2, Qua Doster 1 2-4 4, Ronnie White 3 1-2 7, Nouhoum Bocoum 7 0-3 14, Andre Barnes 0 0-1 0. Totals: 18 16-33 54. Three-Pointers: 2 (Dickerson 2). Fouls: 16. Fouled Out: None.
Navarro (17-8, 10-4) — Cris Boleware 3 1-2 9, Shannon Lilly 2 0-0 6, DaShawn Robinson 3 1-2 8, Trey Young 0 0-0 0, Toney Foster 1 1-2 3, Duan Wright 3 2-3 9, Jamar Goodwin 4 1-2 10, Khory Ross 1 0-0 2, Troy Jones 2 2-6 6, Jaleel Cousins 0 1-2 1, Mike Daniel 1 0-0 2, Neville Fincher 0 1-2 1. Totals: 20 10-21 57. Three-Pointers: 7 (Boleware 2, Lilly 2, Robinson 1, Wright 1, Goodwin 1). Fouls: 23. Fouled Out: None.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra