A battle of wills: That’s the only way to describe Lumpkin County’s 71-70 five overtime win against Chestatee on Friday night at Chestatee High.
The War Eagles overcame a 20-point fourth quarter deficit to send the game into one overtime.
Lumpkin held the ball for the first three overtimes, and failed to convert on all three last-second shot attempts.
"I felt like we could get the tip, and I felt if we could keep going, we could get a score or a foul," Lumpkin coach Bobby Smith said. "I know our personnel and we talked about not getting upset or anxious, (we) just wanted our guys to hang in there."
When scoring finally played into the equation in the fourth overtime, the Indians (9-7, 3-3 Region 7A-AAA) held a three-point lead with 20 seconds remaining before Branden Jovaag hit a 3-pointer with three seconds left to send the game into a fifth overtime.
The game came down to free throws. Chestatee’s Lamar Brooks hit 2-of-2 in the fifth overtime, but Lumpkin’s Shawn Chapman and E.J. Young combined to hit three of four and earn their team the one-point win.
Both Chapman and Young finished as the team’s leading scorers with 18 points each, and Young also contributed a game-high six assists.
"I’m just elated about my team," Smith said. "We had a lot of challenges at the end of the game and we met those challenges."
"It’s like I told my team in the locker room just now," Chestatee coach Russ Triaga said. "I feel badly for them for losing a game in overtime because I care for them as people.
"As a coach, I’m upset that we got ourselves into that position to begin with."
The Indians, namely Chris Guthrie, came out shooting and hitting, going on a 9-2 run midway through the first quarter to take a 14-9 lead.
Guthrie had 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter including three 3-pointers.
Chestatee (8-9, 4-2) closed the gap to two points to end the first on a three-point play by Andrew Gibson, who finished the game with 13 points.
From that point until the fourth quarter it was all Lumpkin County.
The Indians held their biggest lead (24 points) after going on an 8-0 run to start the third quarter and had a 20-point advantage at the start of the final period.
Momentum shifted in the direction of the War Eagles quickly and drastically with 6:08 remaining in regulation.
Jovaag needed nine points to reach the 1,000-point milestone for his career and scored that ninth point with 6:08 to go on a 3-pointer from the corner.
"He had to work hard for each of the 1,000 points," Triaga said. "It’s a real testament to consistency."
After a short break in the game to recognize Jovaag’s accomplishment the game resumed, but looked completely different.
The War Eagles began hitting shots and, more importantly, stopping the Indians from doing the same.
With four minutes remaining — after two more 3-pointers by Jovaag and one by Brooks — Chestatee was within 10.
With one minute left and the score 62-55 in Lumpkin’s favor, Jovaag was fouled.
The senior shooting guard hit his first free throw but missed his second. Michael Boisclair was there to grab the rebound off the miss and convert on what would end up being a 3-point play to reduce the Indians’ lead to three points.
After Lumpkin hit 1-of-2 free throws on its ensuing possession, Jackson Chandler converted for Chestatee on back-to-back possessions to tie the game and send it into overtime.
Lumpkin would prevail 20 minutes later.
"I’m happy we can bring excitement to our fans and can compete now," Smith said. "Chestatee is a very good team, and (Triaga) does a very good job, and (Jovaag) is just a very fine player. He’s very talented."
Austin Tolbert added 11 points on the night for the Indians.
Brooks contributed 13 points for Chestatee and Brandon Smith scored 10.
Lumpkin County next plays host to Pickens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Chestatee returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at North Hall.
Chestatee girls 66, Lumpkin County 57
Peyton Robertson led the Lady War Eagles with 19 points and Chelsea Wilson added 18 in a win Friday night at Chestatee.
Chestatee (11-7, 5-1 Region 7A-AAA) hit a team-record 10 3-pointers in the game.
"People double down on (Robertson) and we’ve got shooters," Chestatee coach Web Daniel said. "They’ve got the green light to shoot it and came out on fire tonight."
Melissa Bailey also contributed 14 points for Chestatee.
Lumpkin (3-13, 1-5) was led by Ashley Brown with 13 points, Cara Malone with 12 and Emma Thomaswick with 11.
The Lady War Eagles return to action at 6 p.m. Tuesday at North Hall. Lumpkin plays host to Pickens at 6 p.m. Tuesday.