By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
PARIS — The Navarro Runnin’ Bulldogs are grinding their way to the Region XIV regular season title.
One hard-fought win after another.
The Bulldogs stole one Saturday afternoon, rallying from nine down in the final minutes of regulation and play tough at both ends of the court in overtime, getting out of Paris with a 74-71 victory at the Hunt Center.
Navarro picked up its 20th win of the season, going to 20-5. The Bulldogs are 12-2 in conference and have a two-game lead on Kilgore with five games left to go in the regular season. Navarro is home twice this week against Panola and Bossier Parish.
Navarro’s first possession in overtime set the tone for the finish. The Bulldogs had two offensive rebounds and finished off a possession that took 1:28 off the clock before Toney Foster made a driving layup off two screens for a 67-65 lead.
“That’s what winners do,” Navarro coach Johnny Estelle said after Foster’s basket and a Paris timeout.
Paris took the lead back at 68-67 on a 3-pointer by Eddie Leal, but Navarro again tied it at 69-69 on Toney Foster’s layup on the same play.
Anthony Adams made 1 of 2 free throws for a 70-69 lead with 1:25 left. Then Harrison Hawkins, who had been cold all game after a sizzling few weeks, made a 3-pointer from the corner for a 72-70 lead with 57 seconds left.
“Such a clutch shot,” Estelle said.
Paris forward Morris Mitchell then was fouled with 39 seconds left and made 1 of 2 free throws, allowing Navarro to keep a 1-point lead and forcing the Dragons to foul. Hawkins made two free throws for a 74-71 lead with 15 seconds left.
The Dragons’ attempt to tie the game was way short when Antonio Arnold’s 3-pointer clanked off the front of the rim with two seconds left.
Navarro trailed 64-55 with 4:07 left, had no momentum and appeared headed for its second straight road loss. Terrance Syon started a 10-1 run with a free throw and made a putback to cut Paris’ lead to 64-58 with 3:19 left.
Princeton Onwas, who led Navarro with 26 points, made a 3-pointer to make it a one possession game at 64-61 with 2:11 left.
Trailing 65-61, Duan Wright saved the game. He made two free throws with 1:07 left to make it 65-63 left. Navarro got a stop, and Onwas drove to the basket and fed the ball to Wright for a layup to tie the game at 65-65.
Adams missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime.
Navarro came out on fire — namely Onwas — to start the game. He made 3 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game for an 11-2 lead.
But Paris was able to whittle the lead down to 37-34 at halftime, and forward Delvin Dickerson scored the first 10 points of the second half for Paris as the Dragons took a 46-40 lead with 14:56 left in the game.
Paris’ inside duo of Dickerson and Morris Mitchell outscored Navarro bigs 24-5.
But the Bulldogs were able to grind away at Paris’ lead in the final minutes, and did what winners do, as Estelle likes to say.
The Bulldogs took this win.
Navarro 74, Paris 71 (OT)
NAVARRO — Harrison Hawkins 9, Johnathan Benn 2, Princeton Onwas 26, David Woodard 2, Toney Foster 10, Duan Wright 14, Brandon Scott 3, Terrance Syon 6, Jaleen Cousins 2.
PARIS — Antonio Arnold 4, Mike Harmon 8, Anthony Adams 8, Delvin Dickerson 16, Eddie Leal 11, Lamar Walker 2, Sheldon Yearwood 8, Marcus Holt 2, Morris Mitchell 8, Will Ransom 4.
Halftime — Navarro 37, Paris 34. End of regulation — Navarro 65, Paris 65.