“Just zone out the world, front of the rim, and let it fly,” McMath said. “Just take it easy, don’t think about anything besides making the free throw.”
Stuart forced overtime by overcoming an eight-point deficit in the final minute of the fourth. Dillon Lawrence sank two free throws to cut Kiowa’s lead to 60-54, then Lawrence drew a foul while sinking a layup and made the free throw to cut the deficit to 60-57.
“That was a great way to start the season,” McMath said. “Stuart played phenomenal, and they’re going to give a good run for the conference tournament.”
Kiowa also overcame a big deficit, though it took the Cowboys much longer than a minute. Down 22-9 early in the second, Caden Shores sank a layup, then turned a steal into a fastbreak layup to make it 22-13.
The Hornets and Cowboys then traded baskets until Shores found Brice Smith under the basket for a layup and a foul. Smith missed the free throw, but Overton grabbed the offensive rebound and fed it back to Smith for another layup that made it 28-23 Hornets.
“We didn’t have a very good start,” Quaid said. “It was just way too much emotion early on, and when we finally settled down and came back a little bit, it gave us a little momentum coming into halftime, and then it was just back-and-forth the rest of the game.”
Shay Calvert’s buzzer-beating fade-away jumper sent Kiowa into halftime down just 32-27. Kiowa continued working the ball to Smith in the second half, leading to 19 of his 23 total points.
Smith drew a foul while sinking a layup, then made the free throw to tie the game 43-43 with 7:33 left in the fourth.
“I was getting used to the officiating,” Smith said of his first half. “I didn’t know how rough I could get away with.”