Qua Davis knows, accepts and even likes his role, he says.
It doesn’t usually call for him to start basketball games, although he got to on East Carter’s Senior Night on Tuesday. And since he’s a small guy, listed at 5-foot-6, he doesn’t get a whole lot of offensive rebounds, either.
But when the Raiders absolutely had to have an offensive board, it was Davis who went and got it.
“I just had to make plays,” Davis said. “Coach (Brandon Baker) said (to the team), ‘Make plays for us to win the game,’ and we kept fighting and we came out with the victory.”
Davis’s stickback at the buzzer forced a third overtime for the Raiders against Greenup County on Tuesday night, and that was when East Carter finally finished off the Musketeers, 80-74.
The Raiders rallied from a 13-point deficit with seven minutes to play in regulation, outscoring Greenup County 50-31 over the final 19 minutes of play.
East Carter (13-12) got 17 points apiece from Cole Brammer, also celebrating his Senior Night, and Connor Greene and Cameron Sparks. Senior Bradley Marsh netted 12 points, and Davis notched 10.
Robbie Dillon led the Musketeers (9-15) and all scorers with 22 points. Jair Jackson had a double-double with 20 points and 16 rebounds, and Gage Hughes dropped 12 points.
According to East Carter coach Brandon Baker, his team essentially just willed itself back into the game.
“We were down and out,” he said. “We looked as bad as we’ve looked all season. Our body language was very poor, and we just kind of looked each other in the eyes and we didn’t want to settle for that. They challenged each other.”
The Raiders’ resilience and their domination at the foul line helped them overcome a 20-for-70 night — 28.6 percent — from the field. They nailed 35 of their 44 charity tosses, or 79.5 percent. Greene was 11-for-12 and Brammer was 10-for-12 on free throws.
That relationship was inverted for Greenup County, which hit 25 of its 54 field goals — 46.3 percent — but connected on just 16 of 37 foul shots, or 43.2 percent.
“We always fight hard, and we always work hard,” Musketeers coach Harold Tackett said. “Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, and that’s what I told them after this: we knock down a couple free throws, and we get out of here (with a win) in regulation.”
Greenup County looked to be on track to do that, leading 43-30 after Hughes’ transition layup with 7:25 to go in the fourth quarter.
But the Musketeers’ inability to keep their big men, Jackson and Brandon Johnson, on the floor due to foul trouble, and the Raiders’ pressure allowed East Carter to rally.
‘We were fortunate enough to get a shot to go, and that allowed us to get in our press series quicker,” Baker said. “And we did a very good job of that and making them play uncomfortable.”
Jackson, listed at 6-6, and Johnson, tabbed as 6-8, are both way taller than anyone the Raiders could throw at them. But Johnson sat for long stretches with foul trouble and fouled out late in regulation, and Jackson later joined him on the bench in double overtime.
“Our size was negated tonight,” Tackett said. “We just got in so much foul trouble, so we never really got a true opportunity to use our size. When we had our size in there at the same time, that’s when we stretched out the lead, but that’s part of the game.”
Davis hit two free throws with 28.4 seconds to go in regulation to give East Carter its first lead since the second quarter, and Brammer added two with 10.5 seconds to go for a 51-48 edge. But Jackson swished a 3-pointer while being fouled with 6.1 seconds left.
He missed the charity toss, forcing overtime.
The first extra session couldn’t determine a winner, but the second one forced East Carter to make a play to stay in it after Dillon’s free throw with 17.7 seconds to go in double overtime put the Musketeers on top, 72-70.
“We’re running basically a give-and-go screen play for Cole to the corner, and he took the shot,” Davis said. “It came up short; I got the offensive rebound and put it back in.”
Added Baker: “You gotta go get the ball ... you just gotta go all out, and Qua went and got it, and was able to sneak it back in there. You’re looking at the smallest guy on the court, but he plays a lot bigger, obviously.”
The third overtime entered its final minute with the score knotted again at 74. But the Raiders tallied the final six points — Evan Brooks scored down low, and both senior Marsh twins, Seth and Bradley, hit two foul shots — to win.
The game wasn’t even the teams’ first overtime affair of the season. The Musketeers topped the Raiders, 62-59, in OT in the third-place game of the Our Lady Of Bellefonte Hospital Holiday Classic Dec. 28 on Dillon’s 3 at the buzzer.
The game began at 8:12 p.m. due to Senior Night festivities, and wrapped up at 10:25.
ZACK KLEMME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2658.