OTTAWA — One team won the Plano Christmas Classic while the other didn’t win a game.
And for most of the night Friday – almost 1 week later – when those two teams met, you couldn’t tell which was which.
In the end though, Ottawa lived up to its billing and prevailed 50-47 over Dixon.
Cody Stokes had a key steal, free throw and block in the final 10 seconds, as Ottawa survived a Dixon team with four underclassmen in its starting lineup.
It was a victory Dixon (2-12, 1-3 NIB-12 West) made Ottawa (11-3, 2-1) earn, and left Dukes coach Jason Mead pleased.
“We had a couple of mental lapses at the end, but overall I really have no complaints with our effort,” Mead said. “The effort was outstanding. We were winning for a lot of the game.
“We had a couple of kids make some big plays, and we’ll learn from the experience.”
Laron Carr and Hayden Ikens both had solid games, as the Dukes led almost the entire first and third quarters. Carr finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Ikens had 14 points, four rebounds and three steals.
After falling behind 20-13 late in the third, Carr scored four straight to make it 20-17 at halftime. Then, in the third period, big 3-pointers from Matt Coffey, Cal Jarrett and Ikens allowed Dixon to claim a 30-27 lead with 55.8 seconds left.
That’s when Ottawa’s John Carroll, the Plano tournament MVP, came to life. He scored 12 points over the next 6:55, including a 3-pointer with 2:00 left in the game to make it 44-39 Ottawa.
Carroll finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Ottawa, which has struggled from the free-throw line all year long, then began to split one-and-one attempts, which were followed by Dixon baskets at the other end. That allowed a Carr bucket to tie the game at 47 with 30.1 seconds remaining.
A silly Dixon foul moments later led to two successful free throws from Carroll with 24.9 seconds left, setting up Stokes’ heroics. With just under 10 seconds left, he intercepted an inbounds pass and was fouled with 6.6 seconds left. After splitting two free throws, he blocked a 3-point attempt by Jarrett as time expired.
“There’s no question we escaped tonight with a win,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “We didn’t play well enough in any aspect of the game. Credit Dixon for doing a lot of good things tonight.”
The Dukes were outrebounded 51-31. That included 13 from Jacob Draper and 10 from Nick Harsted, each of whom scored eight points for Ottawa.
“We’re just really small, and they’re really big,” Mead said. “In a game like that where not a lot of fouls are called either way, that is the advantage to the bigger, stronger team.
“We’re getting better every day. I think the biggest thing was our week of practice has probably been our best week of practice all year. We’re starting to challenge each other, and we’re starting to get better. It showed tonight.”