Tuesday night"s class between state ranked No. 8 Mt. Carmel and Harrisburg featured seven ties and nine lead changes.
None was bigger than the one that Jackson Marcotte gave the Aces as the 6-foot-8 junior forward spotted up from the top of the key and drilled a 3-pointer wit 24 seconds to play to give Mt. Carmel a 44-43 victory over the Bulldogs at the Carmi-White County Invitational Tournament.
The chess match, turned basketball game was a see-saw battle throughout as Mt. Carmel led 13-10 after one and 22-20 at halftime. The Aces held a 35-33 lead going into the game"s final eight minutes when Harrisburg went to work.
The Bulldogs quickly tied the game at 35 and took a 38-35 lead after Hunter Smith drained a corner 3-ball with 6:45 to go.Marcotte then tied the game at 40-all and after Brayden Stipp made one of two free throws, the Aces had a 41-40 lead with 45.6 seconds to play.
On the ensuing inbound, Isaiah Saulsberry worked the length of the court, getting the And-1 to give Harrisburg the 43-41 lead with 35 ticks to go.
After Marcotte"s go-ahead triple, Harrisburg had one last shot, but Noah Ferrell"s 3-point attempt rimmed out.
Harrisburg head coach Randy Smithpeters eluded to Tuesday night"s title being more a chess match, noting he knew his team couldn"t go toe-to-toe with Mt. Carmel because of "their size, skill and attributes they have of being a very good basketball team."
"We came over here with a strategy that we would slow it down. We knew we had to make shots and we knew we would have a hard time defending their size and shooters, so we were very patient. I thought we did a great job.
"I"m very proud of the effort our guys made," Smithpeters added. "It was a tough night, when its 32 minutes of overtime you cross the lane you"re hitting a 6-foot-8, 260 pounder and then you"re hitting a 6-7, 220 pounder and a 6-4, 190 pounder and we"re not any of those things, it"s very tough night on both ends of the floor."
Harrisburg finished the night 16-for-35 shooting from the floor, while Mt. Carmel went 18-for-35. The Aces out rebounded Harrisburg 18-11, but where Harrisburg was able to stay in the game at was forcing Mt. Carmel into 12 turnovers, while the Bulldogs finished with just eight.
For Mt. Carmel head coach Tyler Buss, the game was everything he thought it would — and more.
"Anytime your playing a coach like Randy Smithpeters and the talent of Saulsberry, you have to be ready to play. I thought they did a good job of dictating the pace the game and they made us play defense for 30-35 minutes and then they sped us up to where we had to take some quick shots. We didn"t finish around the basket like we needed to and all of a sudden, you have to go down and play defense for a couple of minutes.
"Give Harrisburg a lot of credit, they executed what Smithpeters wanted them to do pretty much to perfection. Thank goodness we just had enough in the tank to make some plays and finish that thing off."
Marcotte led all scorers with 20 points, going 6-of-12 from the field and knocking down 2-of-2 from behind the arc, including the game-winner.
Buss said the shot may not have been the one they were hoping for, but one he will obviously take.
"We just wanted something in transition, we wanted to get the ball up the floor. I wouldn"t say we were looking for a three in that scenario, we wanted something at the basket, but they did a good job of surrounding (Justin) Carpenter all night with bodies, but give Jackson a lot of credit. That"s a shot he can hit and he hit two big ones tonight."
Saulsberry was the lone Bulldog to finish in double figures as the junior guard dumped in18 on the night.
Ferrell and Smith each netted nine in the loss, while Jordan Bartok finished with four points and Carson Burtis tacked on three. Burtis" lone points came on a 3-pointer with 1:14 in the third quarter that tied the game at 33-all.
"We had a good shot at the end," Smithpeters said, referring to Ferrell"s 3-point attempt. "It was very makable for the guys we have out there and it just didn"t roll in. If it goes in, we are right where we want to be, but still, just very proud of the effort and they way we played all night long."
Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Daily Register and Eldorado Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.