By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Nixa, Mo. — A solid perimeter game and a late rally helped propel Nixa to a 67-62 overtime win against Glendale Tuesday night.
Senior Max Bilbrey scored the first basket of the overtime period to put the Eagles up for good, and then free throws down the stretch from Nathan Elmer and Braeden Combs helped seal the early-season signature win.
A win that saw the Eagles on the ropes several times throughout the course of the game.
After a slow start in the first quarter, Glendale pushed the tempo in the second with full-court pressure. A slew of Nixa miscues quickly followed, and a 12-0 run allowed the Falcons to seize momentum and take a 33-24 lead into the half.
Nixa head coach Jay Osborne talked about the challenges presented by experienced, up-tempo teams.
“[Glendale’s] got some quickness, and they’re senior-dominated,” Osborne said. “That’s a combination that’s going to give us problems this year. We work and work and work in practice against that pressure, but it’s just not the same. We had guys trying to do too much, and the game was too fast for them.”
Glendale’s defensive pressure also helped senior standout Monty Johal work through a slow start of his own. After hitting just a single basket in the first quarter, Johal erupted over the next three to finish with a game-high 33 points.
Despite Johal’s offensive outburst, Nixa was able to limit opportunities from the rest of Glendale’s roster on the evening. The senior was the only Falcon to reach double figures.
“They’ve got such a high-powered offense,” Osborne said. “To hold them to 62 in overtime … That’s a pretty impressive effort on our part, I thought.”
Also working in Nixa’s favor was its ability to answer and kill potential scoring runs with a slew of big baskets from behind the arc.
The Eagles hit nine 3-pointers on the evening, and seven of those occurred in the second half.
Senior Drew Canady and freshman Kaleb Wofford each hit four 3s to keep Nixa within striking distance.
The 6-foot-3 Canady talked about getting quality looks down the stretch in order to continue responding to the slew of Glendale baskets.
“Obviously, we needed good looks — not just any look,” Canady said. ““It’s all about really just being confident. I’ve been in those situations before in games last year and over the summer, so that just prepared me for it.”
Osborne was quick to praise the pair for capitalizing on the opportunities.
“It’s nice to see [Canady] make some shots,” Osborne said. “He hit some shots in the fourth quarter Friday night, and I felt like he was starting to get his rhythm, but we’ve got good shooters. When they get their feet set, they are solid shooters.”
Canady and Wofford finished with 17 and 14, respectively, to lead the Eagles. They were joined in double figures by Bilbrey (14) and Elmer (13).
With just over three minutes left in regulation, Glendale attempted to milk the clock with a 58-56 lead.
The Falcons had two opportunities to stretch the lead and possibly close out the game with one-and-one free throws; however, both front end shots were missed.
With 13 seconds to go, Nixa took a 59-58 lead on an Elmer transition layup.
The stage was quickly set for another knockout opportunity when Glendale was able to draw a final foul with only 3.3 seconds remaining; however, the Falcons managed only to send the game into overtime after missing the second free throw.
Osborne was quick to point out Glendale’s uncharacteristic missed opportunities and praised his team for its resilient nature late in the game.
“Those guys just don’t miss free throws, so we caught some breaks,” Osborne said. “We got lucky a few times, but I was just really proud of our guys for the second half effort. They really got after it.”
Glendale (1-2) opens play in the Greenwood, Ark., HB Stewart Classic Thursday, Dec. 14, while Nixa (4-1) travels to Harrison, Ark. on Tuesday, Dec. 19.
Varsity final: Nixa – 67, Glendale – 62 (OT)
Nixa 15 09 20 15 (08) — 67
Glendale 09 24 11 15 (03) — 62
Nixa scoring: Drew Canady – 17, Kaleb Wofford – 14, Max Bilbrey – 14, Nathan Elmer – 13, Braeden Combs – 7, Jack Sanders – 2
Glendale scoring: Monty Johal – 33, Jaxon Davis – 11, Jordan Walton – 7, Garrett Freeman – 6, Winston Quinn – 3, Dylan Metivier – 2
JV Final: Nixa – 97, Glendale – 86
(Luke Roemen – 26 points)
Frosh Final: Glendale – 56, Nixa – 54 (OT)
(Jack Clinkenbeard – 35 points)