Safford, AZ -- The Safford Bulldogs lost their third game out of their last four, falling to the Estrella Foothills Wolves, 64-63 in 3 OT.
From the opening tip the Bulldogs tried to take advantage of their extreme height advantage, as they went straight to 6-8 Vince Barney for their first basket. The Wolves didn't start anybody over 6-2. However, their pesky 2/3 zone collapsed on Barney from then on out and held him to just 12 points. Safford had a slim 9-6 advantage at the end of one.
The Bulldogs picked up the pace in the second with the help of a 6-0 run. Their defense was even better holding the Wolves to just 7 points and they held a 24-16 halftime lead.
The Wolves opened the third quarter on a 10-5 run fueled by a technical foul picked up by head coach Glenn Flood. The lead was still four, 34-30, at the end of three.
Estrella kept up the defensive intensity and it paid off when Brian Hickman hit a bucket with 3:08 to play to give the Wolves a 40-39 lead, their first of the game.
Safford tied the game with 2:07 to play when Chris Taylor got free on the baseline and hit a running eight foot jumper. Estrella went in to the stall mode on their next possession, trying to get the last shot. They did get a shot, which didn't fall and the Dogs had one last shot. Safford got the ball into Barney's hand with 2 seconds remaining but his left handed turn around jumper didn't even draw iron- Onto overtime!!!
Safford enjoyed a six point lead with :38 remaining the first OT but couldn't capitalize at the charity stripe and the Wolves forced the second OT. In the second, each team only scored one bucket apiece, so tied at 56 we head into the third OT. Safford's Vince Barney fouled out with :16 to play and a one point lead and Estrella in the double bonus. Hickman stepped to the free throw line and calmly hit both free throws to ice the game for the Wolves.
Safford shot 56% from the free throw line. Only making 24 out of 43. The Wolves shot 18 of 27, a 67% clip.
"When we hit the second overtime and we had two starters fouled out, I told the kids we just have to execute," Said Coach Flood. "We have played so many close games this year it was just another game for us."
Brian Hickman led all scorers with 22. Brandon Slocum tallied 13. Chris Taylor led the way for the Bulldogs with 16, followed by 12 from Vince Barney and 11 from Mike McHugh.
The loss drops Safford to 15-7 overall and 5-4 in the conference. The win moves Estrella to 4-6 in the region. Safford will travel to Fountain Hills Friday and Estrella will host Sahuarita.