The Cross Creek players jumped out of their chairs from the bench, anticipating a game-winning shot on Thursday night.
Instead, the ball hit only the rim, and coach Carlos Carter got his teaching moment.
The Razorbacks fought, but made too many costly mistakes late and lost to North Mecklenburg, of North Carolina, 58-56 in overtime, at Laney as part of the Holiday Round Ball Classic.
“This gets us better for region play,” Carter said. “It gives us a diagnostic of what we need to do to get better at when we get into region play.”
Cross Creek led by four at the start of the fourth but had problems with turnovers and missed free throws. The Vikings also had similar issues, but a couple of 3-pointers by Caleb Thomas in the extra session gave North Mecklenburg the lead for good.
The Vikings were up as much as 55-47 in overtime, but that was when Corvis Turner and Marcus Lofland turned clutch to score nine consecutive Razorback points. Cross Creek battled for steals and got one during the attempted comeback, and poor Viking free-throw shooting also aided the cause.
Up 57-56, Mecklenburg missed two foul shots and Cross Creek quickly called a timeout. However, the Razorbacks tried to hurry the ball down the floor and threw the ball away, getting a turnover and forcing a foul.
The Razorbacks got a final chance after the Vikings made one of two foul shots, but the last shot was short.
Earlier in the game, Cross Creek had the lead despite Tahjai Watt’s 23 points. Watt was the focus of the Razorbacks defense, but he still got in back-to-back slams in the third quarter.
But Dallas Rogers’ consistent scoring stretch – he had at least two field goals in the second, third and fourth quarters – gave the Razorbacks the slim lead.
Cross Creek lost it with those mistakes, but Carter hopes his team can use Thursday’s experience as a way to learn about how to close games, especially during region play.
At the very least, the game was a good test.
“It was a tough environment and a tough team,” Carter said.