Junction City rallies past Woodlawn at regional tournament

MENA – If there is one thing that hasn’t been in short supply during Junction City’s stay in the regional tournament, it’s drama.

For the second straight day, the Dragons found themselves in an overtime clash.

But after falling just short against Murfreesboro in the semifinals on Friday, Junction City overcame an early deficit in the extra session to top Woodlawn 53-45 in the third-place game at the 2A South Regional Tournament on Saturday.

The Dragons (19-8), the 8-2A’s No. 2 seed, will be the South’s No. 3 seed for next week’s state tournament, which is being hosted by Mansfield.

Junction City will take on the loser of Saturday night’s clash in the championship game of the 2A West Regional Tournament between Lavaca and Mansfield on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to open the state tournament.

The Bears (20-10), will be the South’s No. 4 seed and play Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday’s tilt between the Dragons and Bears was the third between the schools with each winning at home during conference play.

The game could’ve also been for the regional title, but both schools couldn’t hang on to late leads on Friday.

The Dragons saw a 63-57 lead dissipate in the final stages of the fourth quarter in a 74-70 overtime loss to Murfreesboro, while the Bears saw a 58-53 lead late in the fourth quarter evaporate in a 59-58 loss to Fordyce.

With that backdrop, the 8-2A rivals went into overtime tied at 42-42 after the Dragons rallied from a 21-16 deficit at halftime to tie the game at 30-all at the end of the third quarter.

Woodlawn scored the first three points in the extra session to take the lead, but the Dragons’ defense pitched a shutout the rest of the way, and Junction City began to chip away.

Demarion Henry scored on a putback to pull the Dragons within a point, and Lamontra Hankton, who had a double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds, drilled a runner off the glass to give the Dragons a 46-45 lead.

Woodlawn came up empty on two shots from point-blank range, and Deon James, who had 35 points against Murfreesboro and 12 points against Woodlawn, was fouled and sank two free throws to make it 48-45.

Junction City’s defense came up with a final stop on a contested 3-point shot, which James rebounded before throwing a long pass to Henry for a layup that sealed the win.

Hankton knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer after a Woodlawn turnover to make the final margin.

In addition to his 12 points, James had 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

Henry had 8 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists, while Dominique Grimes added 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists for Junction City.

Jordan Banks also had 8 points while grabbing 3 rebounds in the win.

Taylen Owens rounded out Junction City’s scoring with 2 points while grabbing 5 rebounds.

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