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Smith takes a step back to end thriller

by Mitchell Gladstone | February 27, 2021 at 2:57 a.m.

Sylvan Hills Coach Kevin Davis didn't have to think twice about his decision.

With 10.8 seconds left in double overtime and Little Rock Parkview's Cameron Wallace walking to the free-throw line up 83-82, Davis wasn't going to use his final timeout.

The Bears knew where the ball was going. Everyone inside Ripley Arena did.

With the ball in his hands, Nick Smith drove up the sideline, looking to see if he could beat his defender to the rim.

The junior stopped on a dime instead, took one step back behind the three-point line and his final shot of the night found nothing but the bottom of the net.

Smith's three-pointer with 4.8 seconds to play in double overtime lifted Sylvan Hills to a come-from-behind 85-84 victory over the Patriots on Friday, giving the Bears the No. 1 seed in next week's 5A-Central Conference tournament.

Smith, the nation's No. 29 junior, did damage all over the floor. He scored a game-high 26 points to go with 9 rebounds and 9 assists as Sylvan Hills exacted revenge against Parkview for its lone conference loss one month ago.

"I know Coach believes in me, day in and day out," Smith said. "We were down, so of course I was going to try to get a bucket. But there were three people coming at me, so I had no choice but to step back because if I shot it at six seconds, we'd have a chance to go get a rebound and go back up."

That wasn't needed this time, but Smith's putback ability allowed the Bears to stretch the game past regulation.

After Jaylen Thomas-Miller canned his third three of the fourth quarter with 3:30 to play -- the junior finished with 24 points, second only to classmate Wallace's 25 -- the Patriots led 62-51.

But Sylvan Hills' Jayden Smith answered with a three-pointer, sparking a 16-4 run that eventually gave the Bears the lead thanks to Nick Smith, who collected his own miss and laid it in to go up 67-66 with 30 seconds left in the final quarter.

Parkview (17-3, 10-2 5A-Central) missed a go-ahead opportunity, but Sylvan Hills' Corey Washington, who added 16 for the Bears, hit only one of two at the charity stripe. That gave Wallace the chance to drive through traffic and score at the rim just before the buzzer to send the game to overtime tied at 68-68.

"That was a war," Davis said. "I cannot say enough about my team's resiliency because we were down, down, down. We kept coming back, kept coming back, kept coming back, and I [told them], 'I don't know if you can put into words the resiliency you showed up and down our bench.' "

The first extra period was relatively quiet, with the teams trading buckets in the first two minutes before both went scoreless over the final 1:48. Sylvan Hills (20-3, 12-1) had a chance at the final shot but only got off a desperation heave.

That's when the drama really kicked in.

Parkview's Addison Shelton drilled a three-pointer from the wing, but Jayden Smith answered with a three.

With Sylvan Hills down 77-75 a minute later, Washington jammed home a dunk to tie things again, but he was whistled for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.

Although Thomas-Miller made just one of the two technical free throws, he made a three-pointer 14 seconds later that put Parkview ahead 81-77.

But that earlier missed free throw -- along with 20 others, as the Patriots shot 20 of 41 at the line -- came back to haunt Scotty Thurman's team.

"Extremely frustrating," Thurman said of the free-throw woes. "Even with that, we still had an opportunity to win if we can make the layup at the end of the game. We had our chances. We just didn't capitalize on them."

It's possible these teams will get at least one more shot at one another -- they'll be on opposite sides of the conference tournament bracket next week. Perhaps they'll meet twice more if they collide in the state tournament.

"It's always a good game against Parkview," Nick Smith said. "I've had a couple of good games, but I'd say this is one of the [best] games in my high-school career."

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Little Rock Parkview 68, Sylvan Hills 51

The Lady Patriots put together a wire-to-wire effort, topping the Lady Bears at Ripley Arena. Jordan Gregory carried the offensive load, scoring 24 points for Parkview (8-8, 4-4).

Forward Tyra Robinson did the brunt of her work early, scoring 11 points in the first two quarters en route to 13.

The Lady Bears (10-7, 6-5) were paced by 20 points from Jianna Morris, and Shayla Golden added 14.

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