By Chris Yow
LORETTO — Class A fifth-ranked Loretto forced five turnovers in overtime and converted on the offensive end each time to secure the District 12-A regular-season championship with a 64-53 win at home on Friday over sixth-ranked Summertown.
Despite a sluggish start and scoreless overtime period, Eagles’ coach Wes Long was encouraged by parts of his team’s performance — specifically the resilience to never quit.
“We could’ve gotten embarrassed tonight,” he said. “But our guys fought hard and we gave ourselves a chance to win.”
After taking an early 3-2 lead, the Eagles couldn’t buy a basket in the first quarter, and found themselves in a 20-3 hole to the hosts.
“We can’t get into a hole like that against a team like Loretto,” Long said. “We’ve struggled at times this year coming out slow. Fortunately, we were able to dig out of it.”
Holding the shovel for the Eagles was Skyler Trousdale, who finally found the net with Summertown’s first 3-point basket with 2:20 left in the second quarter. That sparked a 12-2 run to end the quarter with four threes in four trips down the floor, and Trousdale hit three of those. Loretto held a 28-23 advantage going to the break, and came back out of the locker rooms and stretched that lead to 45-35 before Grant Burleson hit a three-ball to cut the lead to seven headed to the fourth quarter.
Gavin Burleson hit a long ball and a pair of free throws before Grayson Burleson tied the game at 45 with 6:30 to play in the game. The brothers scored all 15 points for the Eagles in the fourth quarter.
“The last 26 minutes of the game, I thought we played well,” Long said. “I’m proud of the heart the guys showed tonight fighting back.”
It wasn’t enough to ever overtake Loretto, however, as the Mustangs never relinquished their lead and pulled away in the overtime period. Tabias Sirmones had nine of his team-high 23 points in the extra time. His presence on the block, however, was as big as any points he scored.
“We couldn’t finish at the basket tonight, and that’s because (Sirmones) and (Shaler Hankins) are such a big presence down there,” Long said.
Summertown will face Collinwood on Tuesday, and with a win they’ll secure the No. 2 seed in the district tournament. That would ensure Perry County, the other team the Eagles split with on the year, would have to travel to Summertown in the semifinals if both teams get to that point. The championship game will be at Loretto, so long as the Mustangs also take care of business.
“We didn’t want to have to come back down here, and now we have a tough road to get back,” Long said. “Our kids will just have to embrace the challenge.”
Loretto 64, Summertown 53 (OT)
S 3 20 15 15 0 — 53
L 18 10 17 8 11 — 64
Summertown (53) — Skyler Trousdale 11, Grayson Burleson 8, Gavin Burleson 27, Grant Burleson 5, Kaden Trotter 2
Loretto (64) — Omar Joyner 1, Clint Seymore 7, Shaler Hankins 6, Caleb Davis 6, Xavier Young 10, Brenden Tipps 10, Tabias Sirmones 23
3-pointers — Summertown 7 (Trousdale 3, Gray. Burleson 3, Grant Burleson), Loretto 5 (Tipps 2, Davis 2, Seymore)