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ANNA — Down by 14 halfway through the third quarter, Anna-Jonesboro rallied to beat Du Quoin in overtime, 75-72, on Wednesday to advance to the championship game of the Anna-Jonesboro 2A boys basketball regional.

“I’m just so proud of our guys for battling back in front of their fans,” said Anna-Jonesboro coach Mike Chamness. “They kept playing and playing and finally got the lead late in the fourth. I can’t say enough about our guys getting defensive rebounds and making big free throws down the stretch. I think Blake Pena’s three to start the overtime was big, because it’s so important to make that first shot in overtime.”

Anna-Jonesboro (9-20) will play Pinckneyville (25-5) Friday night at 7 p.m. in the championship game.

“We built a 14-point lead, but couldn’t finish it down the stretch,” said Du Quoin coach Jason James. “We took a few ill-advised shots that got them back into the game, and it came down to free throws at the end.”

Noah McFarland led the Wildcats with 20 points and 11 rebounds, with nine of his rebounds coming in the fourth quarter and the overtime period.

“We just came out and started playing hard in the fourth quarter, because we knew we wanted it more than they did,” McFarland said. “As far as rebounds were concerned, I just got it in my head that the ball was mine.”

Down by 14 with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter, the Wildcats cut the lead to eight by the end of the quarter, and took the lead, 63-62, with 31.5 seconds left in regulation on an offensive rebound by McFarland off a missed free throw.

After Kadin Mays missed the front end of a 1-and-1, McFarland grabbed the rebound and was fouled. The junior missed his first free throw, but made his second to extend the lead to 64-62 with 22.7 seconds left.

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Du Quoin (12-15) ran the clock down to five seconds when Josh Heape scored on a one-hand jumper in the lane to tie the score. Cameron Tweedy’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer went off the rim to send the game into overtime.

Pena got the overtime period off to a bang with  a 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the lead, which they never gave up. Du Quoin then sent the Wildcats to the line six times in the four minute overtime period, and the Wildcats made just enough (5-of-12) to keep the lead.

Du Quoin cut the lead to two with 14.7 seconds left on a layup by Heape. Tyler Smith was then fouled and missed both his free throw attempts to give the Indians a chance, but Heape was called for traveling on a drive down the lane with 1.6 seconds remaining to seal the win for the Wildcats.

The game started quicky, with both teams combining for 27 shots, including 10 from beyond the arc, in the first quarter.

Anna-Jonesboro took a 5-2 lead early on a 3-pointer by Cameron Tweedy and maintained that margin with 1:55 left before Carson Davis drew a foul and split a pair of free throws with 1:01 remaining. Dasani Edward added a fast break layup with 3.8 ticks left on the clock to tie the score at 10-10.

The Wildcats came out of the break with Tyler Smith scoring on a layup and Noah McFarland on a jumper to retake the lead. Du Quoin responded with a 7-0 run that included two baskets by Braeden Pursell, but Tweedy hit his second 3-pointer to tie the score again 17-17 with 2:31 left in the half.

A jumper by Edward regained the lead for the Indians, but Tweedy sank his third from beyond the arc to give the Wildcats a 20-19 lead. The half ended with Edward canning a three with 1:06 left and Carson Reynolds a three from the top of the key with 3.7 remaining to give the Wildcats a 23-22 lead at the half.

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