McDONOUGH — A battle between two teams went to overtime during the Monday night makeup game before a crowd of over 1,000 people.
But each and every last fan in the stands was in for a treat between the top two teams in the region.
A late 3 from Keith Lamar followed by a jumper from Kameron Hobbs for Dutchtown took a nice game into overtime and a winner had to be decided. Depending on where your allegiance laid, the Elliott Montgomery-led Eagles won 87-80.
However, maybe this was the time where Montgomery believes he should have called a timeout, one where it may have prevented overtime from happening.
The early shots from Eagle’s Landing potentially foreshadowed the night as neither side was a clear cut winner early in the going. Eagle’s Landing began the game on a 4-0 run, but it was soon evident that Cameron Bryant wasn’t going to let the Bulldogs fall behind. A 3-pointer from Bryant kickstarted the Bulldogs and the game was just getting started.
In what could be considered a collegiate atmosphere featuring a raucous crowd, the first quarter pretty much set the tone.
“We hit a shot, we go 4-0, we got shook up,” Montgomery said. “At the end of the day, remember, we’re talking about 17-year-old kids — in a college atmosphere. This was not a high school atmosphere, this was a college atmosphere and that’s what happened.”
Errors by Eagle’s Landing were the biggest factor at the start. Ball handling was not as sharp as normal which magnified Dutchtown’s ability to get the lead back on fast breaks.
The only thing that the Golden Eagles had to do was shoot their way out of the hole they dug, but the cold shooting in the first quarter magnified the ball-handling errors that led to the first big lead of the game.
After the first quarter ended, Dutchtown led 22-1. And at the time, the eight points were the biggest lead seen between the two teams.
However, nothing was decided yet between the two sides and the second quarter proved it. During the second quarter, it was apparent that neither side was ready to roll over.
Eagle’s Landing cleaned up some their earlier issues with ball handling but they also began to attack the Bulldogs differently to pull back into contention.
The Eagles scored more in the second quarter than Dutchtown but it only led to a tie that equaled 35.
But it all came down to patience for Montgomery.
“The blessing for me coaching girls soccer is that I’ve had to learn patience,” Montgomery said. “In basketball with the pace of the game going up and down you don’t learn patience. Soccer has taught me patience and I realized all you need is four quarters. So we go down 13.”
But it wasn’t just Eagle’s Landing attacking that had Montgomery looking at the game differently.
“They did a great job against us, attacking us,” Montgomery said. “If you watch video or watch (Dutchtown’s) Kameron Hobbs play, he’s getting to the basket. He’s getting there. You’ve just gotta make him uncomfortable and that’s what we did.”
No one was a clear leader though and the players weren’t as dominant as billed.
Eagle’s Landing fell back as far as 13 in the third quarter but despite being down 53-46 with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter, the Eagles found a way to rally back, due in part to changing their defensive scheme on the fly. But it was a timely call from a coaching buddy before the game that tipped him off to the Bulldogs’ offense.
Defensively, the Eagles went from a man-to-man look and evolved it to a 3-2 zone. Something that Eagle’s Landing didn’t have at the start of the game.
“My good friend Jeff Crawford called me and said to me, ‘Montgomery, they shoot the ball well’,” Montgomery recalled. “He called me before the game and said we’d have to probably go 3-2. The problem with 3-2 when you’re Hobbs off the line that interior guy has to step up and take a charge. But then he hits that floater. When we started to take the ball out of his hands and we made Bryant handle it — he started forcing shots. Did us swapping defenses help, yes.”
The defensive swap led to the Eagles finishing the third quarter down 57-50 but it was clear that the game was far from over and the momentum was beginning to ramp up.
After a technical foul began the quarter, the Eagles were off to a rocky start. Just four points in the first minute was soon matched by Dutchtown’s five points.
Despite a series of ties throughout the fourth quarter, the Eagles had a chance to walk out the gym and avoid overtime with a Lamar three. That three came after Dutchtown’s Jermaine Mann fouled out but the moment that may have turned the game was a timeout that Montgomery didn’t take. That timeout was something he reflected on and believes he should have called at that time.
“That was bad coaching,” Montgomery said. “When Lamar hit the three, I should’ve called timeout. One because I know I’ve got two extremely young kids who’re into the crowd and into the game. That was my fault. Lamar hit that big three, that was an NBA three. And I blew it. I should have called timeout because I knew then we got them. If we played defense.”
Maybe it would have changed the outcome of the fourth quarter but ultimately, the two teams went to overtime after Hobbs hit a nice jumper in the final few seconds to force the overtime. But Montgomery still believes a timeout would have been the turning point of the final quarter.
“Yes, and this is why you have to slow Hobbs down. I knew that and when Lamar hit the three, my problem was I only had one left,” Montgomery said. “My dad says you never go to bed with them timeouts but with a group like this you might have to. Because if Hobbs hits one and they get the ball back I could have used it there. When you have young guards you have to hold a timeout.”
The overtime period was pretty solid from the start. Both teams had four minutes to break the 71-point deadlock. However, throughout the overtime period, it was clear Mann’s absence was felt.
The Eagles led 78-76 with 2:30 minutes remaining and never relinquished the lead again. Ultimately, Eagle’s Landing won 87-80.