The emotional toll of being so close and falling short was obvious in the Woodrow Wilson locker room.
Class AAA No. 9 Woodrow led No. 1 Cabell Midland by as much as 11 points in the third quarter before falling 65-63 in overtime Thursday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. The Flying Eagles had won five of their previous six games.
"We gave it away," Woodrow coach Ron Kidd said while sitting in the locker room, never lifting his face in a 1-minute, 19-second interview.
It was hard for the Flying Eagles (7-5) to digest, especially after dominating the game for three quarters. They had led since early in the first quarter and the lead reached double digits twice.
Woodrow's biggest lead was 40-29 at the end of a 11-2 run to start the third quarter.
Then, the fourth quarter happened. The Knights (12-0) scored the first 14 points of the period to take a 52-45 lead with 5:03 left in regulation. Dominic Schmidt tied it with a 3-pointer and then put the Knights ahead 48-45 in the middle of the run.
"Hats off to them. We knew it was going to be a battle coming in here," Cabell Midland coach J.J. Martin said. "I would have liked to pressure a little earlier (the first three quarters). I think that's what we did in the fourth. That was successful for us. We were sitting back in a zone and they were torching us early in the game. They did a good job scouting us and knew a lot of what we wanted to do offensively."
The Knights struggled to get a shot to fall in the first half. Once that began to improve in the third, Midland started to turn things around.
"I told my guys at halftime, 'If you're open, shoot it. No hesitation,'" Martin said. "They all know they have the green light."
Still, the Flying Eagles got right back into it, and a pair of free throws by Maddex McMillen tied the game at 53-53 with :35.3 left. Woodrow then ended up with possession with under six seconds left, but K.K. Siebert intercepted the long inbounds pass. He drove and took a shot from the left elbow, but Ben Gilliam blocked it and the game went to overtime.
Cabell Midland took a 60-55 lead with 1:39 to go and Woodrow was forced to foul the rest of the way. The Knights didn't make things easy on themselves — they were just 5-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 1:13.
The Eagles took advantage, and a long 3-pointer from Richard Law and a layup by Bryant Jones got them within 64-63 with :22.9 left. After Palmer Riggio hit 1 of 2 free throws, Woodrow had the ball with 3.3 to play.
The Knights' Cory Sweeney stole the ball with a second to play to end it.
Chandler Schmidt led the Knights with 21 points. Dominic Schmidt added 18 and Siebert 10.
Gilliam was a force for Woodrow throughout the night and led the way with 21 points. Law finished with 17.
"There's nothing encouraging when you lose," Kidd said.
Cabell Midland will go to Parkersburg on Wednesday. Woodrow will try to start a new streak that same night at Huntington.
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Cabell Midland 65, Woodrow Wilson 63, OT
Cabell Midland (12-0)
Chandler Schmidt 21, Dominic Schmidt 18, K.K. Siebert 10, Palmer Riggio 7, Sean Marcum 4, Cory Sweeney 2, Kyle Frost 3.
Woodrow Wilson (7-5)
Richard Law 17, Bryant Jones 7, Ben Gilliam 21, Ayden Ince 8, Maddex McMillen 5, Dewayne Richardson 5.
CM 10 17 11 15 12 — 65
WW 16 13 16 8 10 — 63
Three-point goals: CM: 8 (C. Schmidt 2, D. Schmidt 5, Frost); WW: 5 (Law 3, Jones, McMillen). Fouled out: CM: Marcum.