PROSPER — When three consecutive 3-point baskets wiped out their 7-0 lead, the Ponder Lions knew they were in for a tough game against Sunnyvale on Thursday night.
What they couldn’t have guessed was that the Raiders would extend the Class 2A area-round playoff game by two four-minute overtime periods before Ponder prevailed 59-53 at Prosper High School.
“They’ve got good players that can really shoot the ball,” Ponder coach Jude Stanley said of Sunnyvale. “Their team played as well as I’ve seen them play.”
Clay Morgan, the Lions’ 6-foot-5-inch junior, scored 32 points, including 15 of his team’s 17 fourth-quarter markers. But he fouled out late in the first overtime.
“I believed in my teammates,” Morgan said about being forced to the sidelines. Morgan averaged 20 points per game in the regular season.
Senior Grant Boxell scored seven of Ponder’s final 10 points after going scoreless in the second, third and fourth quarters.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Boxell said. “I was just open sometimes and I went for it.”
Boxell is one of seven seniors on the Lions’ roster.
“This team has a lot of depth,” Stanley said.
Boxell and 6-6 junior Josh Peterson each finished with nine points. Brady Anderson and Kade Copp each scored four. Reid Sanders and reserve Coleman James grabbed some big rebounds, and Micah Broadstreet scored the game’s final point.
“If you’re going to have a team make a run in the playoffs, you’ve got to have some guys come through for you,” Stanley said. “I’m very proud of our bench. Without them, we’re not walking out with the W.”
Now 28-9, the District 9-2A co-champions will play in next week’s regional quarterfinals against the winner of tonight’s game between Peaster and Whitesboro.
Sunnyvale, which led at the end of the first three periods and charged hard at the end of the fourth period and the first overtime, finished the season at 21-9.
Senior guard Stephen Kirven led the Raiders, 50-39 bi-district winners over Howe, with 17 points. Fellow senior Thomas Wendt, an inside presence at 6-5, scored 13 points.
The game saw 15 ties and eight lead changes. The Raiders’ biggest lead was 19-14 midway through the second quarter, and Ponder’s only six-point lead was the final margin, coming on Broadstreet’s free throw with 7 seconds left.
Sunnyvale led 30-28 after three quarters and was ahead 35-32 with 5:10 left in the fourth when Morgan began a string of 17 straight points for Ponder. But over the final 5:10 of regulation, the Raiders never let the Lions get more than two points ahead.
Still, when Morgan’s layup off a feed from Boxell put Ponder ahead 45-44 with 20 seconds remaining and Sunnyvale’s Wendt was called for a charge with 7 ticks left, a Lion victory seemed in the bag.
Stanley talked strategy during a timeout, but a tipped inbounds pass was stolen by Sunnyvale and a foul with 5 seconds left sent Raider Corey Crenshaw to the line to shoot two free throws.
After his flat first shot missed, Crenshaw knotted the game at 45 by hitting his final try.
In the first overtime, Morgan gave Ponder leads of 47-45 and 49-47 before fouling out, and Boxell made it 51-47 with his runner with 1:40 to go.
But Wendt scored on a baseline jumper, and after back-to-back Ponder turnovers, Sunnyvale’s Josh Quinn tied it at 51 with 28 seconds left. That’s how it went to the second OT.
Brady Anderson gave Ponder a 53-51 lead with a strong drive from the perimeter. When Quinn’s 1-for-2 trip to the line left the Raiders behind, Boxell took advantage, scoring a field goal and a pair of free throws to make it 57-52 with 1:09 left.
Sunnyvale managed just one free throw in the remaining time.
PONDER 59, SUNNYVALE 53 (2 OT)
Sunnyvale (21-9) — Josh Guinn 9, Lawson Ayo 6, Stephen Kirven 17, Casey Crenshaw 1, Ryan Cottingame 7, Thomas Wendt 13.
Ponder (28-9) — Clay Morgan 32, Grant Boxell 9, Brady Anderson 4, Kade Copp 4, Micah Bradstreet 1, Josh Peterson 9.