The South Effingham boys basketball team had erased two double-digit deficits. The third one proved too much, too late.
Chakiris Moss had seven of his game-high 33 points in overtime, leading the Richmond Hill Wildcats to a 63-53 win over the Mustangs in South Effingham’s Region 3-AAA opener Friday night.
“I’m very proud of these guys,” Mustangs coach Jason Keeler. “We fought for 32 minutes. We were able to force them into uncomfortable positions offensively. We just couldn’t convert on the other end. We’re better because of this game. We proved we can fight out our way out of a hole. We’ve just got to do a better job of staying out of them.”
Moss had 12 points in the first quarter to stake Richmond Hill to a 19-9 lead as the Wildcats ran off a 12-2 spurt to close the period. The lead swelled to 13 — on Moss’ floater in the lane — before the Mustangs embarked on their first comeback of the night.
After an Alex Reid 3-pointer, Justin Hatten came up with a steal and driving layup, and Eddie Harris capped 13-2 run with a scooping shot with 25 seconds to go in the half.
Hatten, who had a game-high 18 points for the Mustangs, slashed the lead to two points with a 3-pointer. But Moss struck again, getting a reverse layup to stretch the advantage back to 11 points.
Again, however, the Mustangs got off the deck as Jaron Mullins scored six straight points, four coming on a four-point play with 49 seconds left in the third quarter to bring the Mustangs within 42-37. Moss, though, retaliated with a 3 of his own to end the period.
Robbie Bynum’s long jumper put the Wildcats ahead by nine with 5:12 to go. The rest of regulation belonged to the Mustangs, who reeled off eight unanswered points, including Hatten’s steal and layup and Alex Fisher’s follow-up shot with a minute to go. Hatten knotted the game at 49-49 with 11 seconds to go, banking in a 3-pointer.
Moss nearly won it in the final seconds, but his putback attempt of his own miss at the buzzer rolled out.
He shook that off and hit two free throws to open the extra session and nailed a 15-footer with 2:19 to go. Richmond Hill scored the first seven points of overtime before Zach Anderson countered with a layup. The Mustangs drew no closer over the final 46 seconds.
Mullins finished with eight points for the Mustangs, who also got seven apiece from Anderson and Harris, six from Fisher, four from Jamaal Bynes and three from Reid.
Bynum added 17 points for the Wildcats.