There was a thriller at Dupont Manual High School Tuesday night, as the St. X Tigers fought to overcome a first-half deficit, extended the game to overtime, and defeated the Manual Crimsons in comeback fashion, 66-65, in the first round of the Seventh Region tournament.
Tigers (21-10) coach Kevin Klein had this to say about the comeback win.
“I’ve been super proud of so many teams that have come through here at St. X,” he said. “But tonight, these guys showed something that I haven’t seen in a really long time. That will to win, togetherness through adversity…all of our program culture was exuded to the Nth degree in that second half and overtime. Big-time players making big plays, getting timely stops and believing every step of the way. Super proud of the effort.”
St. X and Manual (21-7) were tied at 54-all after senior guard Mehki Smith missed on his three-point attempt to end regulation. But he came out firing on all cylinders in overtime, as Smith scored six straight points to put the Tigers up 60-56 with 1:39 left to play. Senior guard Koji Anderson and sophomore guard Damone King were able to combine efforts and tie the game at 60-all, but Smith went to the rim once again shortly after to put the Tigers up 63-61 with 29.1 seconds left.
Then Smith grabbed a critical rebound which sent him to the line once again, where he was 8-11 on Tuesday night, and he proceeded to put the Tigers ahead 64-61 with a little over ten seconds left in the game. King was fouled and also went to the line, where he was 1-2 to draw Manual closer to St. X.
But Smith came up with another crunch-time rebound and followed with a 2-2 showing at the free-throw line to give the Tigers a 66-62 lead. Anderson, who finished with 24 points, knocked down a three in the closing seconds, but there wasn’t enough time left for the Crimsons to capitalize on the shot. King also finished with 27 points for Manual.
“We can’t go down like this,” said Smith, as he described his mindset through making the game-defining shots to close the game. “We need to keep going and fighting. I’m (going to) try to help us get there.”
St. X advances to face the winner of Trinity-Ballard and will play again on March 4 at 6 p.m. at Valley High School.
Reach Jonathan Saxon at JSaxon@gannett.com or 502-715-1393 and follow him on Twitter at @TheSleepyScribe.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KHSAA: St. X basketball fights back to defeat Manual 66-65 in overtime