Levi Yancy’s Buzzer-Beating Tip-In Lifts No. 2 White Oak to 63-62 Comeback Victory Over No. 3 Tatum
TATUM — White Oak needed all 79 inches of Levi Yancy’s frame to survive a hostile environment Friday night.
Trailing one point on the game’s final possession, White Oak point guard Kris Anderson drove to his right and lofted a shot along the baseline that bounced off the rim, but Yancy soared above the fray under the basket to tip in the miss right before the buzzer for a 63-62 comeback win at No. 3 Tatum that puts the second-ranked Roughnecks in the District 17-2A driver’s seat.
“I’m just glad it went in,” said White Oak coach Ron Boyett. “I was glad to see the long arm of the law go up there and put it in.”
Yancy’s tip-in sent the visiting White Oak crowd into a frenzy in Eagle Coliseum, which was well over capacity with fans standing along the concourse the entire way around the facility.
White Oak (27-1, 11-0) controls its own destiny in the 17-2A race. If the Roughnecks hold on to the district lead as expected during the final three regular-season games, they will avoid a second-round meeting with No. 1 Kountze — a 78-62 winner over White Oak on Dec. 29. Tatum (25-8, 9-2) would play Kountze in the second round if the Eagles remain in the No. 2 spot in 17-2A. Tatum beat Kountze earlier this season when both teams were missing at least one key player.
White Oak’s win Friday came after the Roughnecks trailed by 17 points at halftime, 42-25. Tatum, which trailed 19-16 entering the second quarter, dominated that period, outscoring White Oak 26-6 behind Javolick Garrett’s double-digit outburst for the 17-point intermission advantage. Garrett scored a game-high 26 points with seven rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
“I just mainly tried to challenge them. I thought they whipped us the first half. I just thought they physically whipped us, they fought harder, they had more guts, and they just took it to us,” Boyett said of his halftime speech. “I told them at halftime, ‘You continue to do that, we’re gonna lose by 30 if you’re not careful.’ I just tried to challenge them, and I felt like they would respond. I didn’t know if we would win or not. I just wanted us to fight a little harder. It’s easy for me to sit over there and say, ‘Do it,’ but it’s a tough place to play and they’ve got all kinds of athletes all over you. I was glad to see we responded, and I felt like we would, but it wasn’t looking good there for a while, so I didn’t know.”
Anderson sparked the comeback.
The 5-foot-6 guard scored on back-to-back isolation plays that ended in him hitting shots in the lane during an 8-0 run that cut Tatum’s lead to 46-40 late in the third. Another Anderson isolation bucket trimmed the deficit to 48-44 entering the fourth.
Tatum pushed its lead to 58-52 with 3:22 left on Klifton Willis’ jumper, but White Oak scored the next six points, including the final two on technical free throws with 2:21 remaining to tie the score. A turnover near midcourt led to the technical when a Tatum player slammed the ball down in frustration, allowing White Oak’s Skylar Sutton to tie the game at the line.
Tatum then got a couple of stops paired with Cole Hughes’ jumper in the lane and Garrett’s 1-for-2 free-throw trip with 54.5 seconds left for a 61-58 lead. On the ensuing possession, Anderson drove toward the bucket from the right wing, forcing Tatum’s defense to collapse, which left Slade Sutton open in the right corner for a clutch game-tying three-pointer with 35 seconds to play.
Garrett split another two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the bucket with 9.1 seconds for a 62-61 edge. Without any timeouts, White Oak was forced to bring the ball down without setting up a play. That’s when Anderson drove and missed, only to have Yancy tip in the game-winning buzzer-beater.
“You don’t find many point guards that can play as many minutes as Kris did tonight and the first time against them, and hold up as well as he did,” said Boyett of Anderson, who had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists. “You better have at least two (point guards) or they’re gonna wear you out, as many kids as they rotate in. I’m gonna tell you, (Anderson) is a tough little toot. … He holds up pretty good because they’re darn good on defense and they bring athlete after athlete at him. He handles the ball and it’s physical and he makes plays. He’s a heck of a kid.”
Yancy had his usual double-double with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks, while Slade Sutton scored 14 points. Skylar Sutton added 13 points.
Jahee Johnson had 14 points and seven rebounds for Tatum, which got 10 points from Hughes.
White Oak hosts Jefferson on Tuesday, while Tatum visits Elysian Fields.
No. 2 White Oak 63, No. 3 Tatum 62
Eagle Coliseum, Tatum
White Oak — 19 6 19 19 — 63
Tatum — 16 26 6 14 — 62
White Oak (27-1, 11-0) — Kris Anderson 14, Slade Sutton 14, Skylar Sutton 13, Levi Yancy 13, Hayden Nichols 4, Tanner Sharp 4, Cass Carr 2, Josh Benson 1.
Tatum (25-8, 9-2) — Javolick Garrett 26, Jahee Johnson 14, Cole Hughes 10, Robbie Rockwell 6, Shaq Johnson 2, Klifton Willis 2.