Carthage Pulls Off Upset of No. 1 Center
CARTHAGE -- Dee Bowens stepped to the free throw line with the game in his hands.
Carthage was tied with No. 1 Center with 14 seconds remaining. Bowens, who hadn't scored a point all game, was fouled and had a one-and-one opportunity. The first free throw fell through. The second clanked off.
Center corralled the rebound and went downcourt. However, the Roughriders wouldn't even get a shot off before they turned it over on a traveling call. Forced to foul, Center sent Dewaylon Ingram to the line. He missed, giving the Roughriders one last shot.
That, too, would fall short. Bowers again played hero, intercepting the pass downcourt and allowing time to expire. The Bulldogs secure the upset, 41-40 on Tuesday night.
"I knew I was going to make it," Bowens said. "I had been playing bad, so I needed to step up and make up for it."
The game was back and forth throughout. It was emotional. The crowd was loud and the players fed off the energy. Once the victory was sealed, Dewaylon Ingram, who led the Bulldogs with 16 points (including three 3-pointers), jumped and hopped gleefully along with the rest of his teammates when the buzzer sounded.
"It's a rivalry and we always play close," coach Charlie Tucker said. "I've been here for six years and every game has been decided by a few points or less. We've always been short on it because I feel like we didn't make the big plays like we did tonight. We made some free throws at the end. Emotions are there, but I told the guys, 'Enjoy the win, but we still have to take care of business Friday.'"
Carthage (8-2, 2-1 District 9-4A Division I) used a press to fluster Center's offense. The Roughriders committed 13 turnovers, including the crucial one as time expired. The Bulldogs also did a good job of getting offensive rebounds for second chance points. They ran a 2-3 zone throughout the game, which Tucker said was typical of their play style. However, it worked to prevent Center's size and length from becoming an issue for the Bulldogs.
Keaontay Ingram finished with 14 points and five rebounds off the bench. Quinton Owens led the Bulldogs with six.
Jaterious Evans led Center (24-2, 2-1) with 19 points and six rebounds. Center coach Hiram Harrison said the loss, though disappointing, could end up being a good thing for his team.
"Our heads got big a little bit and we needed a loss to bring us back down to earth," he said. "Carthage gave it to us. Hopefully we will learn from it and get better."
Center will get the chance to rebound from the loss when it faces Rusk at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Carthage's next opponent is Tatum, also at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
"It was a fun game to watch," Tucker said. "The crowds are starting to get better. I remember when I first started here, you'd look up and there's 20 people in the stands. I'm a football coach. I coach football until the end. These kids are football players. We get these kids and just do the best we can."