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CARTHAGE, Texas — Jovan Austin scored 13 of Paris’ last 14 points, including the game-winner with 2.2 seconds to play, as the Dragons knocked off Panola 78-76 Wednesday night.
The win clinched a first-round bye for Paris (22-7, 15-4) in the Region XIV tournament next week in Tyler.
When San Jacinto and Lamar State-Port Arthur both lost on Wednesday, the Dragons’ seed improved to No. 2 overall, and if Navarro beats Trinity Valley on Saturday in Corsicana, the Dragons will be Region XIV’s regular season champion.
Austin was one of five players to score in double figures for Paris. Delvin Dickerson had 17 points, including three 3-pointers. Austin added 16, Nouhoum Bocoum 14, Joe Haynes 13, and Ronnie White 10.
Brandon Herman led Panola (10-18, 4-14) with 17 points. Brendt Pickens and Josh Morris scored 14 each, and Malik Fields had 12.
Paris led 33-25, the largest lead by either team, with 5:10 remaining in the first half, but Panola went on a 20-5 run to take a seven-point lead of its own after two minutes of the second half.
Then Paris scored 11 straight, including five points each by Haynes and Dickerson.
And back and forth it went.
Bocoum’s free throw tied the game at 72-72 with 2:48 to play, and Austin hit a 3-pointer for a 67-67 tie.Thirty-one seconds later, Austin made two free throws to cut Panola’s lead to 70-69. Then Austin stole the ball and scored for a 71-70 lead.
With the shot clock off, Panola came down court needing two points to tie, three points to win. Rather than allow Panola a shot just before the buzzer, leaving Paris no time to counter with anything, the Dragons fouled Herman with 9.4 seconds to play. It was Paris’ ninth foul of the second half, meaning a 1-and-1 free throw.
Panola wouldn’t be able to win the game at the free throw line, and if he were kind enough to miss his first, or even a second shot if the first was good, Paris would have the lead and the ball with less than 10 seconds to play.
Trying to freeze Herman, who had made 6-of-8 free throws to that point, Taylor called three consecutive time outs as Herman was waiting to shoot, and the Paris coach had both his 6-9 centers — White and Bocoum — in the two spaces in the lane closest to the goal.
Herman didn’t miss. He made both free throws to tie the game one more time at 76-76.
And now, with that 9.4 seconds left in the game, it was Austin’s time once again to shine. He took the ball downcourt, made a bee-line for the basket and laid up a little floater that dropped cleanly into the net for the game-winner with 2.4 seconds left in the game.
Panola had time only for a shot from three-quarters the length of the floor. It wasn’t close, and Paris had the victory.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra
PARIS (15-4, 22-7) — Jovan Austin 5 5-6 16, Delvin Dickerson 6 2-2 17, Trevon Seymore 0 0-0 0, Brandon Scott 0 1-2 1, Keith Shivers 2 0-0 4, Xavier Dupree 1 0-0 3, Joe Haynes 4-5 13. Qua Doster 0 0-0 0, Ronnie White 3 4-5 10, Nouhoum Bocoum 4 6-8 14. Totals: 25 22-28 78. Three-Pointers: 6 (Dickerson 3, Austin 1, Dupree 1, Haynes 1). Fouls: 21. Fouled Out: None.
PANOLA (10-18, 4-14) — Geru Mabrey 3 0-0 6, Patrick Branch 0 2-2 2, Brandon Herman 4 8-10 17, Ricky Roberts 1 5-5 7, Inga Kuba 2 0-0 4, Brendt Pickens 4 3-3 14, Malik Fields 4 4-5 12, Stefan Bangelav 0 0-0 0, Josh Morris 4 6-8 14. Totals: 22 28-34 76. Three-Pointers: 4 (Pickens 3, Herman 1). Fouls: 21. Fouled Out: Mabrey.
Halftime: Panola 42, Paris 38.