HERRIN — Fresh off of its championship at the Du Quoin Tip-Off Classic, the Cairo boys basketball team continued its impressive play with a come-from-behind victory on the road Tuesday night.
Trailing by nine points with 3:45 left in regulation, the Pilots stormed back to force overtime against Herrin. Cairo dominated the extra session and earned a 72-65 victory over the Tigers.
“They’ve got big heart, and they always try to find a way to win,” said Cairo coach Larry Wood. “It took us most of the game to try and figure out the 1-3-1 because we really don’t see it, but after a while, they found a way to get it done. They have unbelievable determination. They don’t quit, and they don’t like to lose.”
Damarius Taylor buried a 3-pointer to start a 13-4 run for the Pilots over the final 3:45 of regulation. The overtime period was all Cairo.
Bronson Nesler sank two free throws to tie the game at 62-all, but the Pilots ripped off eight straight points. Taylor, who scored 30 points, had six during the 8-0 run. Fairleigh Ward assisted to Malachi Brown on the other basket.
Brown notched 15 points, mostly in the paint, for Cairo (6-1).
“He is the unsung type of hero because he does all the dirty work for us,” Wood said of Brown. “He always holds the big guy inside and gets the rebounds and stuff like that.”
Cairo led for most of the third quarter and still had a 47-46 lead early in the fourth period. That’s when Herrin’s Brandon Anthony took over.
Anthony repeatedly took the ball to the rim for layups and sparked a 10-0 run for the Tigers. But this was the game that slipped away for the home team.
“Sometimes when you play a team like Cairo, they can speed you up a little bit,” said Herrin coach Sayler Shurtz. “They kind of changed the pace that we like to play at. We told the guys the pressure was coming. We just have to get used to playing that type of basketball in those types of games.”
The Tigers (2-4) were playing without their leading scorer, Drew Ringel. But Anthony stepped up and scored 23 at the point guard spot.
“Brandon can kind of take over like that,” Shurtz said of his sophomore guard. “He is learning as he goes, but he is a very talented player. We maybe relied on him just a little too much.”
Terrell Jones added 11 points for the Pilots. Nesler tallied 15 points for Herrin, and Hayden Holloway contributed 14. Tate Johnson scored 11 points for the Tigers.