December 4, 2009 8:45:00 AM
MACON -- Hebron Christian School girls basketball coach Greg Watkins wondered if the Lady Eagles could handle the pressure of going into overtime.
That question was answered Thursday night.
Tied at 39 at the end of regulation, the Lady Eagles used a 15-point overtime to earn a 54-47 victory against Central Academy.
Watkins wasn''t only concerned about playing an extra quarter, he was worried about dealing with the Lady Vikings'' defense. He was pleased his players responded.
"One of our Achilles'' heels has been trying to handle man-to-man and getting into a pressure situation," Watkins said. "In the (two previous) games, we haven''t played as crisp. We came out tonight and looked a whole lot better. It was a big effort. I told the girls they really grew up."
Watkins said junior Hillary Arnold''s ability to stay in the game with four fouls through the fourth quarter and overtime showed her toughness.
Central Academy coach Luke Tubb was disappointed his squad couldn''t hold its fourth-quarter lead. The Lady Vikings led 39-37 with four minutes remaining in regulation after a basket by Alex Dawkins.
"We had a little bit of trouble closing out on them," Tubb said. "We had a chance to win it in regulation, but we missed a shot and didn''t get a call."
Senior Chelsea Holcombe came up big for the Lady Eagles (8-3, 1-0 North A, District 3A) with seven of her 16 points in overtime.
"Holcombe did a good job of shooting the ball, and she''s a real good shooter," Watkins said. "She''d rather pass than shoot, and I told her she''s got to open up the inside by shooting.
"(Laura Beth Moore) cleans up a lot of trash inside. When Alex got into foul trouble we could work it in there to her. We hit the free throws when we needed to hit them."
With Hebron Christian leading 50-47 with 25 seconds left, Cathryn Moore (15 points) and Holcombe hit a pair of free throws each to ice the game.
Laura Beth Moore finished with 11 points.
Kendall Taylor led Central Academy (1-4, 1-1) with 16 points, while Dawkins added 10.
"We''re getting better every game," Tubb said. "We''ve still got a ways to go. We''re still refinishing our floor, so we haven''t had a full-court practice in over two weeks except to play a game, so I was real proud of the way they played. They play hard until the final whistle every game."
n Hebron Christian 62, Central Academy 35 (B): The Eagles soared to a 21-2 lead, then survived the Vikings'' mid-game run.
After leading 23-4 at the end of the first quarter, Hebron Christian saw Central Academy close the gap to 33-24 at halftime.
Even though the Eagles moved their advantage back out to double digits in the fourth quarter, coach Gary Vaughn didn''t like the way his team let the Vikings hang around.
"They would never quit," Vaughn said of Central Academy. "We had them on the ropes, but we couldn''t finish them off. They played really well and my hat''s off to them."
Vaughn said any win in the division is important for Hebron (5-2, 1-0).
"There are about five or six teams in our district and anyone on any given night can beat anybody else," Vaughn said. "Tonight, we jumped out better."
Blake Harrell led the Eagles with 19 points, while Jordan Jackson added 17 and Carlton Clay had 12.
Vaughn said Hebron is at its best in transition.
"We feel good about our running game," Vaughn said. "We like to get the ball out quick with the pass, push it to the middle then dish it into lane."
Rowdy Rigdon had 13 points and Ferris McGuire added 10 points for Central Academy (1-4, 0-2).
"The team is young and it''s early in the season," Central Academy coach Zach Kilpatrick said. "We''ve got some mental things we need to work on and some things we forget when we''re on the floor in front of the crowd, but things are going to pick up throughout the season.
"Hunter (Campbell) is a really good leader for us (as a senior) and Rowdy is a good shooter for us. Cole (Newman) brings the ball up well and Chris (Newman) is real tough on the boards."
Hebron Christian''s next game is Monday at Kemper Academy in Dekalb, while Central Academy plays host to Russell Christian on Thursday.