It was a gut-check kind of game for the Sherman Bearcats, and perhaps for no one more than Kemonte Dowdy.
The senior guard tweaked his right knee early in the contest and then hurt it a little more in the second half. He waved off an attempt to take him out of the game and Sherman ended up better for it in the end.
Dowdy hit a game-tying three-pointer with six seconds left and the Bearcats prevailed in overtime, 82-79, against Denton to close out the first half of District 5-5A action at Sherman on Friday night.
“My knee buckled up. It didn’t hurt too had,” he said. “It was a big win. We needed it. We had to have it. We’ve had a lot of games where we had to fight, not give up.”
It was the sixth three-pointer of the night for Dowdy, who led five Bearcats in double-figures with 23 points. Rayvon Hester added 15 points, five rebounds and three assists, Jeremy Norvell and Jaylyn Cleamons each scored 14 points and Blaise Bentsen finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds for Sherman (15-11, 4-2), which is tied with Denton (12-7, 4-2) for third place and a game back of co-leaders Ryan and Rider.
“It was a whole team effort tonight. Everybody who came in did a great job,” Sherman head coach Marcus Klingsick said. “If we lose that game, we’re sitting in fourth all by ourselves and we hadn’t improved over last year when we were 3-3 at this point. Plus stay within a game of first place. Tighten things up again — that’s what we wanted.”
Arbin Fera gave the Broncos their only lead in overtime at 71-70 with a pair of free throws.
Norvell scored seconds later and Dowdy converted a three-point play on the Bearcats’ next possession.
C.J. Luster hit a corner three-pointer with 26 seconds left to make it a 79-77 margin but Bentsen made two free throws to push it back to a two-possession game again with 17 seconds remaining.
Fera scored a game-high 29 points for Denton, including a three-point play with 45 seconds left in regulation.
“He surprised us. He hit some big threes in the corner,” Klingsick said. “We had three guys on the board to try and stop and we wasn’t one of them. Credit to him.”
That was almost the deciding play and gave Denton a 65-64 lead. The Broncos then came up with a turnover and Marcellus Locksley had a bucket with 19 seconds remaining.
Dowdy then came up with the shot that gave the Bearcats new life.
“It felt good. It looked good,” he said. “It’s really just the mentality to take that shot.”
Add Klingsick: “It was kind of the flow the play and we didn’t get exactly what we wanted. We got it to the right guy who hit the shot.”
Earlier in the fourth quarter, Denton was up 58-54 before Tazorian Smith had a putback and Dowdy scored on a drive to tie the game with just over four minutes left. The Sherman surge saw Norvell convert in the lane and a pair of free throws from Cleamons but Denton wouldn’t go away and tied the game at 62 with 1:12 left.
Hester was fouled on a jumper and made both free throws with 59 ticks showing but Fera came through for the Broncos.
After trialing by nine at the break, Sherman opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run with Norvell and Cleamons scoring around a Dowdy long-range shot. The teams then started trading baskets before Cleamons connected from behind the arc in the corner to pull Sherman even at 45. Norvell hit a floater in the lane a minute later for the first Bearcat lead of the night.
“A veteran club that was working hard and kept fighting was rewarded for it,” Klingsick said.
Sherman held a 51-50 advantage going to the final eight minutes and the fourth quarter was tight the entire way with neither side going ahead by more than four points.
Denton raced out to the early lead and led 10-4 with Joseph Frisby hitting a pair of three-pointers. Sherman battled back and tied the game at 12 on a Cleamons putback. But the Broncos finished the quarter strong for a five-point advantage that by the middle of the second quarter surged past double digits.
Luster, who scored 16 points, hit consecutive threes to give Denton a 38-24 lead with 2:13 remaining in the half. The Bearcats were able to hold the Broncos scoreless for the rest of the quarter while Bentsen hit a floater and Dowdy drilled a three to get the deficit down to nine.
“Let’s just get it to single digits. Go out in the second half, force some turnovers and make some shots and be right back in it,” Klingsick said. “They slowed down big time from what they were doing and we changed what we were doing defensively and that got them out of sync a little bit.”