JASPER, Tenn. - Once again it wasn't enough for the Lookout Valley boys' basketball team just to win the District 6-A tournament championship. For the second straight season the Yellow Jackets had to do so in dramatic fashion, scoring the game's final six points in the final minute for a 46-42 victory over Van Buren County.
Last year the Yellow Jackets beat Van Buren on a buzzer beater, and Tuesday night at Marion County High they held the Eagles scoreless for the final 1:26.
"It looked like they had all the momentum there late, but our kids are used to being in close games like this and they know how to find a way to win them," Jackets coach Joe Galloway said. "Our style of play is conducive for winning these type games, and we have a lot of experienced players that aren't afraid when the score is close late in the game."
Sale Creek won the third-place contest, beating South Pittsburg 58-47. All four teams advance to the Region 3 tournament this weekend.
Lookout Valley and Van Buren split their regular-season series, each winning at home by four points or less. The Yellow Jackets have now won 14 straight since losing at the Spencer school.
Lookout Valley (24-5) used a 10-0 run late in the first quarter to take control early, but the Eagles chipped away at the lead, closing the first half on an 8-2 run to pull within one.
The Yellow Jackets maintained the narrow lead through the third quarter, but consecutive baskets by Sheldon Hitchcock, the second a 3-pointer, gave Van Buren back the lead.
But tournament MVP Delaney Heathington answered with a jump shot just seconds later to help Lookout Valley regain the lead. Heathington scored six of his 18 points in the final four minutes and leaped to prevent a ball from going out of bounds, preserving a critical late possession for Lookout Valley.
"I saw the ball bouncing and nobody from their team was in the way to stop me -- they were just going to let it go out of bounds -- so I ran as fast as I could and just tossed it back hoping one of my teammates would get it," Heathington said. "They're a good team and we always have close games with them, but I think our experience in these kinds of games gives us a lot of confidence that we'll find a way to win."