Karns hangs on in wild OT win over Oak Ridge in Region 2-4A semi, 78-72

By Bill Howard

It was a game that seemed to have as many lead and momentum changes as points scored.

In the end, Karns High School’s boys’ basketball team held on for a wild, 78-72 overtime win over Oak Ridge High School in a Region 2-4A semifinal at Karns High School.

The Beavers advanced to play William Blount – a 54-51 winner over Bearden in another nailbiter – Thursday night for the regional title. Both those teams will move on to Sectionals.

“Great game,” said Karns coach Lee Henson. “They beat us twice this year. I  knew this was a good year for us to win (the region) and for our seniors. Our guys fought through it. I’m very proud of them.”

Wildcats’ coach Aaron Green was gracious in defeat.

“Congrats to Karns,” Green said. “Tough to swallow … I felt like we had it won in regulation. In overtime they made more plays than we did. They deserved to win. I felt like we turned it over way too much.”

Karns trailed 63-60 with 41 seconds to go in regulation, when Bubba Faulkner was fouled attempting a trey. He made all three free throws, forcing the extra period.

In the overtime, the Beavers scored the first five, only to see OR cut it to one. Five straight by Karns made it 73-67 with 1:19 left. A three by OR’s Brennen Scott pulled the Wildcats to within three, 73-30 with 1:07 left.

The Beavers then scored five straight on free throws, while getting a couple of crucial steals on defense. It had its biggest lead of the game with 17 seconds left, 78-70. Oak Ridge’s Shamar Greene’s layup at the end of the game completed the scoring.

Oak Ridge jumped out to a 9-5 lead early, but the Beavers then ran off six in a row on the way to a 14-12 lead after one period.

KHS’s JJ Faulkner’s trey with 4:41 left in the half gave the Beavers a 22-16 lead. But the Wildcats then ran off seven straight to lead 23-22 with 2:42 left. Jaylen Roberts’s jumper with 11 seconds left put Karns back on top at the half, 29-28.

Oak Ridge led 55-53 after three. In that period, ties and lead changes occurred on almost every basket.

“That happens,” Henson said, of the innumerable lead changes. “They’re gonna make a run, so are we. We had other guys step up when it counted. You have to at tournament time.”

Mini-runs by both teams was the story in the final quarter. OR’s Ray Quan Watson’s two free throws with 1:10 left gave the Wildcats a 63-60 lead. Faulkner then sent the game into OT with his three free throws.

‘Cats’ Kaden Brightharp led Oak Ridge with 20. Scott got 13 and Greene added 10. KHS’s JJ Faulkner led all scorers with 21. Roberts got 17, Aiden Goins 14, and Bubba Faulkner 11.

“We were playing hard the whole game,” said JJ Faulkner. “We fought through it, fought through adversity. Coach told us to lock in. We finally got over the hump this year, finally at the end we got the win.”