Remarkable Comeback Gives Panthers Men Overtime Win

Ja Don Crooms
Ja Don Crooms

A remarkable comeback that saw the Tompkins Cortland Community College men's basketball team rally from 18 points down in the second half, and 5 points down in the final 30 seconds left in regulation, ended with the Panthers picking up a 91-86 overtime win over Columbia-Greene Community College. The win give Tompkins Cortland its first two-game winning streak of the season and an overall record of 6-10. Columbia-Greene is now 10-9.

The first half saw each team go on runs, and each team hold a lead as big as nine points, with Columbia-Greene holding that advantage at the break, 43-34. The Twins picked up where they left off to start the second half, pushing the lead to 18 points in the first five minutes of the second half. The spread was still 15 points at 59-44 with 13 minutes left, and 10 points at 73-63 with 6 minutes left when the Panthers began a final push.

A quick 6-1 run made it a five-point game with 4:28 left. The lead wavered between three and seven points over the next three minutes, but stood at 80-75 with 1:30 left. Neither team could score over the next minute until Jaiden Allen (Marlboro/Marlboro H.S.) drained a deep three-pointer with 30 seconds left, bringing the Panthers within two points at 80-78. Needing a defensive stop, Shareef Ali (Queens/Martin Van Buren H.S.) came up big, stealing the ball and taking it all the way to a game-tying layup with 15 seconds left. Columbia-Greene had an off-balance shot in the closing seconds, but when it fell short, the game went to extra time.

The momentum gained by the late run helped the Panthers complete their comeback story in overtime. A Columbia-Greene free throw accounted for only point of the first two minutes of overtime, but Allen changed that with another deep three-pointer, this one putting the Panthers up 83-81 with 2:11 left. It would turn out to be the only basket scored from the floor in overtime by either team as the Panthers would make 8-of-17 from the free throw line over the final two minutes to seal the win. For the five-minute overtime, Columbia-Greene would manage just six points on 6-of-10 shooting from the charity stripe.

All five starters scored in double figures for both teams. Allen led the Panthers with 19 points while Devonte Henry (Brooklyn/Boys and Girls H.S.) had a double-double with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Ja Don Crooms (Brooklyn/Boys and Girls H.S.) also went for a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds and Ali had 15 points and 3 steals. Garrick Averett (Hempstead/Hempstead H.S.) chipped in with 12 points for the winners.

The Panthers return to Mid-State Athletic Conference action Wednesday when they travel to Corning Community College to take on the Red Barons.