Willie Gaines drives

Willie Gaines drives the paint for a game-tying shot Friday night before halftime at North Oconee. 

BOGART – The Madison County boys’ basketball team clung to a five-point lead in the closing seconds of Friday night’s game at North Oconee, but the Red Raiders were unable to hang on.

Three different Madison County players squandered chances to extend the lead at the free throw line and the Titans took advantage to tie the game at the end of regulation. Meanwhile, North Oconee’s top two shooters combined for 56 points. North Oconee outlasted Madison County in double overtime 77-75.

“That’s the most glaring thing, but we gave up 31 points to (Jace Saxton) and 25 to (Adam Weynard), we have to do better defensively” said head coach Bryan Bird. “I don’t feel like we played our best tonight, but we gave ourselves a chance to win and we had the game in our hands. We just didn’t execute with making free throws and we didn’t get enough stops down the stretch.

“We had chances in both overtimes, we just couldn’t find a way to get it done tonight. I will say I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. I told them that we’ve learned how to handle adversity in losing games, now we need to learn how to handle after winning a few.”

Nolan Hill scored 23 points and Adam Metts' scored 20, but both missed free throws late in the game which allowed North Oconee to continue chipping away at the lead until it tied the game at the foul line with 2.7 seconds on the clock. Adam Metts three-point attempt at the buzzer was on target, but it careened off the rim to send the game to overtime.

Both squads had trouble scoring in the first overtime and ended the period tied 68-68. The second overtime started with both teams trading shots, a three-pointer by the Titans to start the period had them ahead 73-72. North Oconee extended its lead to 77-72 at the foul line with 12 seconds remaining. Logan Griffeth drained a quick three-pointer to cut the lead to 77-75 and Roderick Jones nearly stole the ensuing inbounds pass, but Madison County couldn’t regain possession.

Madison County wouldn’t have been in position to win the game if not for an electrifying end to the first half by Willie Gaines. Madison County trailed 32-23 when Hill made a three-pointer. Gaines followed with a put-back and a pair of fast breaks in the closing seconds to tie the game 32-32 at the break.

Madison County took the lead early in the second half, but couldn’t pull away. The lead went back-and-forth through the rest of the third quarter. The Red Raiders ended the period ahead 45-44 and led for the entire quarter before North Oconee tied the game.

“I was proud of them. How we started was not a good start,” Bird said. “But they kept battling and tied it up at halftime, and took a one-point lead after the third quarter. We just couldn’t find a way in that fourth quarter to get it done. Bottom line, we just didn’t finish the game. Only thing to do now is learn from it and don’t let it happen again.”

The Red Raiders are off Tuesday night. They end the regular season Friday night at home against St. Pius X.

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