Dragons win an OT thriller against Tenaha, 78-75
January is a bit early for the playoff basketball atmosphere that took over the Special Events Center in
Tenaha last Friday, when the defending 2A State Champion Shelbyville Dragons took on the No. 5
ranked Tenaha Tigers. While these teams clearly respect one another, it was equally clear that neither
team wanted to lose to the other. Tiger fans and Dragon fans alike streamed into the SEC to show
support for their teams and to watch what we all hoped would be a competitive ballgame. We were not
“How about this environment though,” Tenaha Coach Greg Jenkins asked, “I mean, you’re looking at
somewhere between 1500 or 1600 people in here to watch a 2A basketball game. That’s just absolutely
phenomenal to me.”
Over the course of the game, it became clear that not only were these fans there in body, but they were
present in spirt as well. The excitement of the crowd played no small roll in the highly competitive
atmosphere that took over.
Tenaha was able to jump off to an early lead over the Dragons with an Erik Smith free throw and a pair
of early buckets. LD Coleman did what he does best for the Dragons, bring the hustle. Coleman
prevented a Shelbyville turnover, when he made an impressive diving save for a ball that was inches
from being called out of bounds. Down 5-0 early, Brayden Hand put the Dragons on the board with a
three-point shot to trim the lead to two. Both teams were playing this game as if their lives depended on
it, and in a matter of a few weeks when playoffs start in earnest, it will. The traveling Shelbyville fans
matched Tiger fans cheer for cheer, which is no small feat when visiting Tenaha. Trindon Claiborne has
proven to be a weapon for the Tigers from beyond the three-point line, and this night was no exception
as his two three-point shots helped seal the Tigers lead of 15-11 after the opening period.
A three from Coleman and another from Jordan Boykins at what seemed like half court put Shelbyville
on top for the first time in this game. The Dragons appeared to find their rhythm, as they played their
best quarter outscoring Tenaha 23-14. Jay Buckley and Coleman spearheaded the attack for the
Dragons. These two have been working on building chemistry on the court, and it has clearly begun to
pay dividends, as Buckley to Coleman has started to become a staple for Shelbyville.
“I tell LD everyday that I need him,” said Buckley, “He’s my brother. He keeps me and everybody on the
team going. I tell him to keep his head up and stay positive.”
A pair of three-pointers from Hayden Jenkins kept Tenaha within striking distance. By halftime, the
crowd was making more noise than one should reasonably expect from a 2A basketball game. These
people came for a show, and that is exactly what they were getting. Shelbyville entered the locker room
with a 34-29 lead.
JJ Patton was the first to score in the second half, as the Tigers rallied to make a comeback. Deuce
Garrett and Michael Hogg worked together to provide a spark for Tenaha. The Tigers would trim the
Dragons lead slightly before heading into what should have been the final quarter of play. The score
rested at 49-45, Dragons
Midway through the fourth, Buckley drove to the basket and scored while being fouled by a Tiger
defender. Following the and-one signal from the official, Buckley received a technical foul as he walked
away celebrating the call. Coach Schmitt and the Dragon fans in attendance were livid with the call. Both
made it a point to voice their displeasure. Garrett made the first shot but uncharacteristically missed the
second. A short while later, Hogg set the Tenaha crowd on fire, when he tied up the score at 64-64.
Garrett received an equal ovation, when he drove the ball to the basket and took the lead from
Shelbyville with very little time left in the game. The Dragons did not panic despite time working against
them, and they were rewarded when Buckley was fouled and awarded two shots. Buckley stepped to
the line, took a breath, and despite the gymnasium half-full of screaming Tiger fans, sank the first free
throw. Shelbyville brought the noise following his success on the first attempt. With just under eight
seconds left on the clock, Buckley somehow rose above the noise once more to tie the game at 66-66,
sending the game into overtime. The teams were treated to a standing ovation from the crowd
following four quarters of heart-pumping action.
Kolby Parker kicked off overtime with a his second three of the night. Following a missed three-point
attempt from Tenaha, Parker earned a trip to the charity stripe for two shots. His two made attempts
put a cap on a night in which he was a perfect six-for-six from the free throw line. Shortly after, Parker
would take a charge for the Dragons that would help Shelbyville build their lead. With time about to
expire, Garrett knocked down a three-point shot for the Tigers with time running out, but it was too
late, Shelbyville had won 77-75.
Jay Buckley ended the night with an impressive 34-points for the Dragons.
“That Buckley has become a great leader. Not just scoring and playing, but he’s grown so much in his
four years. He has really become a positive role model. He’s really helped LD grow to become a better
player. It’s amazing. It’s really fun to watch those kids grow up like that,” said Coach Schmitt.
Tenaha was led by Michael Hog’s 27-point effort. Deuce Garrett was a force for the Tigers as well. His 23
points proved crucial to pushing the State Champion Dragons into overtime.