In a pivotal matchup with first place on the line at OTE Arena on Saturday night, it was Team OTE that outlasted Team Overtime to get the 76-74 victory in overtime.
Leading almost the entire game, Team OTE missed a couple of free throws down the stretch allowing Team Overtime to have a chance. With 4.5 seconds left, Jean Montero dribbled the length of the floor and hit a layup at the buzzer to force overtime.
On the opening possession of overtime, Montero found Jai Smith on the baseline for a dunk bringing them one basket away from the win. On the other end, Matt Bewley hit a layup and got fouled for the answer. After making his free throw, Team OTE was one point away from the win.
Team Overtime had a chance to close things out as Lewis Duarte got fouled and went to the line, but missed both free throws keeping Team OTE alive.
A couple possessions later, Team OTE forced a turnover and got out in transition and Johned Walker drew the foul. Only needing one free throw to win, he missed the first one. With tension all around the arena, he made his second free throw giving Team OTE the big win putting them in first place in the standings.
For the seventh game in a row, every player on Team OTE scored a basket. Amen Thompson led all scorers with 19 points. He also added six rebounds and two steals to his stat line. Izan Almansa and Johned Walker each scored 12 points and Tyler Smith had 11 going a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc.
Team OTE started out hot in the first quarter out scoring Team Overtime 24-11.
From there, they maintained control for most of the game, but Team Overtime was constantly chipping away, pulling within five heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, Team Overtime took its first lead since early in the first quarter after a Montero three pointer, but Team OTE responded to take the lead back on a TJ Clark layup while getting fouled. After Clark made his free throw, Team OTE stepped up their defense and got a couple of stops forcing Team Overtime to start fouling to extend the game. Two crucial misses at the charity stripe by Team OTE led to Team Overtime getting the chance to tie the game at the buzzer and force overtime leading to the dramatic finish for Team OTE.
Team Overtime was led by Montero with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals. Battling foul trouble most of the game, Dominick Barlow finished the game with 17 points. Jai Smith was perfect on the night going 8-8 from the floor for 16 points.
The win by Team OTE gives them 14 points in the standings and one point clear of Team Overtime. The next games will be next weekend as Overtime Elite hosts Combine Academy, Our Savior Lutheran and Sunrise Christian Prep. The first games will be on Friday, January 28 at 5 p.m.