LANGLEY --- Midland Valley students and fans rushed the court to join most of the Mustangs in celebration after a 57-55 overtime victory over visiting Dutch Fork on Saturday night.
But a weary and wobbly Byron Coleman could do nothing more than collapse near his team's bench.
The 6-foot-9 senior was spent after playing with bronchitis, Mustangs coach Mark Snelgrove said. Coleman was used sparingly throughout the night, but Snelgrove had no choice but to put him in during the closing moments of the second half. The big man answered the call by saving the game with a block at the buzzer to end regulation, then won it on an alley-oop lay-in with 19 seconds left.
"He's been struggling. I think he's in there throwing up right now," Snelgrove said of Coleman. "But he was still a factor tonight."
While Coleman saved the game, it was his teammates who got him to that point, first by building a seemingly insurmountable lead, then by blowing it.
Midland Valley took control early, riding the momentum sparked from senior Nolan Meyer and his 10 second-quarter points. But the Mustangs blew a 21-point second-half lead when they struggled against Dutch Fork's 1-3-1 zone defense.
The Silver Foxes orchestrated three separate 9-0 runs in the second half and tied the game at 51 on a pair of Eric Bethel free throws with 61 seconds left in regulation. After a defensive stop and a timeout, Dutch Fork had a chance to win it with 6.2 seconds remaining.
But Julian Nelson's drive through the lane ended with Coleman sending the shot attempt into the bleachers.
Coleman and Meyer combined for all six of Midland Valley points in overtime, including Meyer's lob pass from the free-throw line to Coleman on the baseline for the game-winner.
Snelgrove and Meyer said the Mustangs' experience was the deciding factor.
"If it was last year, we would have fallen apart," Meyer said. "But this year we've been playing together for a long time and we all know each other, and we're not going to let each other down."
- Dutch Fork handed the Lady Mustangs a loss in a 59-33 blowout.
Katie Dyches scored 28 points for Midland Valley, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
Reach Billy Byler at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.