By SCOTT TYLER
H-P Sports Editor
RUSK — Playing in an hostile environment Tuesday night, the Palestine Wildcats could not overcome their free throw and turnover woes as they fell to Rusk 60-57 in overtime.
The Wildcats were 13-of-28 from the free-throw line and committed 19 turnovers in a loss that most likely diminishes all chances for Palestine to make the playoffs this season.
Palestine never led in the overtime session and Rusk scored the first three points and then fended off the Wildcats.
Adorian Arthur scored four of the five Palestine overtime points, including making two free throws with 1:23 left in the game to cut the lead to 57-56.
Rusk answered with a free throw to take a two-point lead but could not extend its lead with 30 seconds left as Justin Sturns missed two from the free-throw line.
Palestine had a chance to tie the game with 12 seconds remaining as Ben Beckworth was fouled, but the Palestine junior made only one-of-two from the line.
After the missed free throw, Rusk got the ball and found a wide open player down the floor who made the basket giving Rusk a three-point lead and Palestine’s desperation three pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, giving Rusk the win.
The Wildcats trailed through most of the second half, including being down nine points with just over four minutes to play in the game.
Palestine got the deficit down to five points at the three-minute mark when Kevin Birdow, who had 10 points on the night, had a putback.
Single free throws by Ben Beckworth and Jeremy Bailey got Palestine within three points at 47-44 with 1:40 to play. After Palestine missed an opportunity to score, Greg Anderson intercepted an errant Rusk pass, dribbled up court, penetrated into the lane and then dished it to Birdow, for the open basket and Palestine was within one point, 47-46, with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter.
Palestine took its first lead of the fourth quarter when Anderson, who had 18 points, had a layup with 48 seconds left but Rusk came right back with a basket to retake the lead.
With 28 seconds left, Beckworth tied the game as he made one-of-two from the free throw line, but on his miss, Anderson got the rebound and putback, giving Palestine a 51-49 lead.
On the inbound pass, Rusk’s Vincent Tucker was fouled, but he only made one of his free throws and Palestine had a chance to seal the game from the free-throw line.
However, with 14 seconds left, Birdow made only one-of-two from the line, giving Rusk a chance and the Eagles took it as Darren Miles drove the baseline and made a layup between two Palestine defenders to tie the game and send it into overtime.
The Wildcats were in constant foul trouble from the beginning stages of the game as Larry Jackson picked up two quick pushing fouls in the first quarter and another foul in the second quarter.
Jackson, Palestine’s leading scorer, was on the bench most of the night with foul trouble and scored nine points before fouling out early in the fourth quarter.
Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com
By SCOTT TYLER