The Ozark Tigers trailed the Willard Tigers by nine points early in the 4th quarter, but Ozark pushed back and tied the game at 61 with a 3-pointer by Brett Krisik, sending the game into overtime.
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Jakob Neidig gave Ozark the spark they needed with a quick basket after the overtime tipoff. Ozark made seven out of eight free throws in overtime along with two baskets, winning 72-70 over Willard.
"In the overtime, we got a quick bucket and were able to keep the lead. We did a good job making free throws down the stretch," said Ozark coach Steve Hunter.
Willard opened the 4th quarter ahead 49-42 and widened its lead to nine points with two baskets by Kolbe Kinghorn. Ozark began to challenge that lead, powered by Jakob Neidig's two 3-pointers. A basket by Korbin Evans with one minute remaining placed a comeback for Ozark within reach at 60-58.
With less than 30 seconds left in the 4th quarter, Krisik sank a trey to tie the game at 61. Krisik scored 28 points on the night.
The final score reflected the momentum Ozark showed after opening tipoff. Ozark outscored Willard 19-8 in the first quarter. The Willard Tigers' first basket was a 3-pointer by Landon Anderson halfway through the quarter.
Willard recovered in the second quarter, trailing 28-27 at the half. They pulled ahead in the third period, going for six at the free throw line and closing the period at 49-42.
"It was a game of runs. They get the final run to put the game in overtime. It seemed like we never really recovered from that. They get the credit for being able to pull out the last run, getting the game in overtime, and taking advantage of it," said Willard coach Lamont Frazier.
Hunter commended the Ozark Tigers' commitment.
"The focus was there the whole game. They tried to do what I asked them, all through the game. That's a tribute to them," said Hunter.
Willard travels to Webb City on February 5. Ozark faces Branson at home on February 5.
Ozark 19 9 14 19 11(OT) -- 72
Willard 8 19 22 12 9 (OT) -- 70
Willard: Chris Kendrix 27, Kolbe Kinghorn 15, Skyler Baker 14, Landon Anderson 7, Cainen McGinnis 5, Montana Craig 2
Ozark: Brett Krisik 28, Jakob Neidig 16, Tyler Clanton 13, Korbin Evans 8, Nick Cookinham 3, Heath Carmichael 2, Noah Nelson 2