Nathan Bailey had hinted all season at the prowess he possessed on the basketball court. On Friday night at the Carl Parker Center, he played like a man possessed, knocking down the biggest shot of the year for Lamar State College Port Arthur.
Bailey came off the bench to score 18 points for LSCPA, hitting a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left in the game to give the Seahawks a huge 86-85 win over 10th-ranked Trinity Valley Community College. The win brings LSCPA even at 2-2 in NJCAA Region 14 play and moves the Hawks to 10-5 for the season. TVCC falls to 13-2 and 2-1.
The heart-stopping 3-pointer by Bailey came with the Seahawks trailing 85-83 after TVCC's Tyson Jolly dropped in one of two free throws with 15 seconds left in the game. Back down the floor the Seahawks came with the game plan set for freshman Devaughn Thomas to try to tie the game.
"Devaughn told me if he couldn't get open he was going to get me the ball and that I needed to take the shot," Bailey said. "He got the ball to me and all I could see was the rim. I took the shot and hit it."
Up 86-85, the ball went back down the court and the Cardinals got off two more shots in the paint, both too strong to the goal, and the Seahawks took home easily their biggest win of the season.
"This is a huge moment for this team," Bailey said. "We knew coming in that we could beat this team. We know now that we can beat anyone if we play our game and stay in control."
The Hawks went blow for blow with the Cardinals throughout the game, going up by double digits near the end of the first half, taking a 10-point lead into the halftime break. The Cards took the first six minutes of the first half to claw their way back into the game, tying it up at 54-54 on a 3-pointer by Jairus Roberson at the 14:39 mark. From there, Jolly and center Vladimir Purtskhvanidze pushed the TVCC lead out to 10 points at 64-54 before LSCPA sophomore Tevin Baker finally stopped that run with a 3-pointer with 11:35 left in the contest.
The Seahawks chipped away at the TVCC lead through the next seven minutes, tying the game again at 74-74 with Bailey hitting a layup with 4:15 left. The game went back and forth between the two with the pivotal moment coming in the final seconds on Bailey's 3-pointer.
"This is a game I've known I've had in me all season," Bailey said. "I didn't do that well in the first half but my teammates brought me up and convinced me I could do better. I came out in the second half and I could feel it."
Bailey finished 7 of 13 from the floor and 2 of 2 from the free throw line. He hit 2 of 8 from beyond the 3-point line.
Jolly scored 30 with 12 rebounds for the Cardinals with Purtskhvanidze adding 18 with nine boards.
The Seahawks continue their Region 14 schedule with a 4 p.m. game Monday, Jan. 7, at Kilgore College. That game can be seen live online at www.coopersports.net with pregame at 3:30 p.m.