VERSAILLES — The Jennings County boys basketball team worked overtime to get to the championship game of the South Ripley Invitational.
Three overtimes to be exact.
Following a 52-49 overtime victory against Oldenburg Academy on Thursday morning, the Panthers came back in the evening with a 56-47 double-overtime win against Greenfield-Central.
Jennings will play East Central in the title game at 8 p.m. today.
Against Greenfield, the Panthers found themselves trailing 40-35 with less than two minutes left in regulation. The Jennings was forced to foul, but the Cougars gave the Panthers an early Christmas gift when they could not knock down their free throws, and Jennings eventually tied the game to force overtime.
In the second overtime, the Panthers turned to their two senior veterans, Tyler Vogel and Kenneth Jones. The duo scored 12 of their 14 points in the period, with Jones knocking down the free throws.
“The last four games we played have been night and day,” Jennings coach Josh Land said. “In the second quarter, we struggled to hit our shot outside. Our defense picked up, and we had a lot more energy and more enthusiasm. We played with more urgency and we did not allow a field goal in the third (quarter).
Jones had his struggles in the first half, scoring only a single point. In the second half and overtimes, he had score 16 points to finish with 17.
Vogel picked up the slack early with his teammates finding him for open looks. He led the Panthers (6-1) with 20 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Jennings allowed Greenfield (4-5) to extend its lead 28-18 at halftime. The Panthers outscored the Cougars 8-1 in the third quarter, setting up the fourth quarter comeback.
“Kenneth Jones stepped up and hit some big free throws for us,” Land said. “Our heart and determination is just outstanding with this team.”
Against Oldenburg, Jennings went 19 for 23 from the free-throw line. The Panthers outscored the Twisters 14-11 in the extra period.
Vogel led Jennings with 17 points and seven rebounds. Jones added 10 points.