ADA — With 2:10 left in the first overtime of Friday night’s Class A Area title game with New Lima at the Cougar Activity Center, Roff star Dearth Parker was waiting to inbound the ball in front of the press table while the game officials cleaned the sweat from a floor that, for what seemed like the hundredth time, had just seen players from one team or the other sprawled across it.

In the midst of a contest that will be talked about for years in an area where sports are more a religion than a pasttime, Parker cleaned off the soles of his shoes, turned, and, with the wry, confident smile that is his trademark, said calmly, “Heckuva game, isn’t it?”

Add a talent for understatement to the list of more obvious attributes that make Parker one of Oklahoma’s best clutch players.

A 5-10 senior guard who entered the playoffs already established as perhaps the best all-around athlete in Roff history, Parker also cemented his legacy as one of his school’s most successful ever with 29 points — including 10 straight free throws in the final 1:14 — as the Tigers advanced to their third straight state tournament with a pulsating 68-62 double overtime victory in front of one of the largest — and loudest — crowds to ever see a high school basketball game in south central Oklahoma.

Ranked as high as second in Class A in one state poll and as low as eighth in another despite a 26-1 record (best ever for a Roff basketball team) coming into Friday’s game with the third-ranked Falcons, the Tigers rallied from eight points down (40-32) entering the fourth quarter to tie the game at 45-all on Jason Trimmer’s third 3-pointer of the period with 1:26 left in regulation, they blew a six-point lead in the span of just over a minute late in the first overtime as New Lima (25-3) rallied to tie it on a layup by Marvin Battle with 45 seconds left, and they finally stopped the emotional roller coaster by outscoring the Falcons, 15-9 (Parker’s 10 free throws and five points from senior foward C. J. Stewart), in the second extra period.

“This is better than the last two (trips to the state tournament),” said Parker, who, along with Trimmer and Stewart, was part of Roff’s surprising 2004 state runner-up and last year’s club that, ironically, had a terrible night at the free throw line in a one-point loss in the opening round of the state tournament. “Now we want to go win it.”

Darrick Farriell, who came to Roff this season after coaching the McCurtain girls and boys to the Class B state tournament a year ago, said he wasn’t surprised by his club’s fourth-quarter rally and eventual victory over a New Lima team he called “the most athletic in Class A”.

“These kids don’t know how to quit,” Farriell said. “I just told them starting the fourth quarter to go play the kind of defense they were capable of. I also told them that we had players capable of hitting some big shots — and they did.

“This is definitely the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” he added. “We had so much support from our fans and from fans and players from surrounding schools tonight.”

The Tigers and Falcons combined for four turnovers and just two shots to open the second overtime before Stewart (at 6-1 Roff’s tallest starter) converted a 3-point play with 2:13 left to give Roff the lead for good.

Parker started the sequence by missing a 3-point attempt, but junior Atlee Kile — in the midst of his first career double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds) — grabbed the rebound and eventually got the ball to Stewart, who threw up a prayer as he was fouled — and falling — under the basket and saw his prayer answered when the ball caught nothing but net. Stewart then converted the free throw (one of 20 by the Tigers in the game in 25 attempts) to make it 56-53.

A pair of free throws by New Lima’s Steven Wolf (who entered the game when starting guard Colten Brooksher fouled out just 14 seconds into the first overtime) at the 1:29 mark trimmed Roff’s lead to one, then Parker hit four straight free throws over the next 29 seconds to put the Tigers up 60-55.

Anthony Scott was fouled after grabbing New Lima’s 12th (and final) offensive rebound of the contest with 47.5 seconds left and sank two free throws to again make it a one-possession game, but Kile found Stewart under the basket for a layup with 32 seconds remaining, and Parker drained six more free throws in the final 22.4 seconds to offset a 3-pointer by Brett Brooksher that made it 67-64 with 15.2 seconds left.

Roff scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points (four each by Kile and Parker) and led 12-4 after Stewart’s putback of a Parker miss with 2:24 left in the first quarter, but New Lima trailed just 14-12 heading to the second period and, with the Tigers in the midst of a five-minute stretch that saw them manage just one field goal, the Falcons moved on top 29-21 on a Colten Brooksher 3-pointer with 1:46 left in the half.

Parker took over in the final 30 seconds before intermission, however, banking in a short jumper in the lane to make it 29-23, then draining a 3-pointer at the buzzer with New Lima star Ryan Gibbs draped all over him to cut the Falcons’ lead to three at halftime.

New Lima scored the first six points in the third quarter to take the biggest lead by either team in the game at 35-26 on a fast-break layup by Gibbs (who finished with a team-high 17 points but didn’t score in the fourth quarter or overtime) with 5:16 left, and, although Parker converted a 3-point play after being fouled on a drive to the basket four minutes later to make it 36-32, Battle hit the final two baskets of the quarter to send the Falcons to the fourth period with an eight-point bulge.

But Roff’s defense — which held all but a handful of opponents under 40 points this season and stifled 10th-ranked Achille in a 50-34 victory in the regional title game — took over in the final eight minutes of regulation, limiting New Lima to two field goals (layups on the same trip down the floor) in eight attempts.

Trimmer, who, like Stewart, finished with 13 points, started Roff’s fourth-quarter rally with a 3-pointer from the corner off a Parker assist just 15 seconds into the period, Kile got a putback of a Parker missed 3-pointer to make it a three-point game with 6:25 left and followed with an assist on Trimmer’s second trey of the quarter (to make it 41-40 at the 4:55 mark), and Parker gave the Tigers their first lead since early in the second period when he hit a baseline 15-footer with 3:12 remaining in regulation.

Brett Brooksher — who had 13 points in the loss — was fouled by Stewart on a layup in transition just seven seconds after Parker’s go-ahead bucket, and Battle (who finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds) grabbed the carom along the baseline on Brooksher’s missed free throw and rammed it back in to put the Falcons up 45-42 with three minutes left.

New Lima didn’t score again in the period, however, and Trimmer sent the game to overtime with his third 3-pointer off a feed from Xavier Sedo. Colten Brooksher then blew a chance to give the Falcons a late lead when he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 55 seconds left.

Roff scored eight of the first 10 points in the first overtime — two free throws apiece from Parker, Sedo and Stewart and a Kile putback of an offensive rebound — to take a 53-47 lead on Stewart’s charity shots with 1:51 left, but New Lima roared back to tie the game on a layup by Wolf, a putback by Scott of a long rebound of a Battle miss and — after Kile missed two free throws — a Battle layup with 45 seconds left.

The Tigers played for the last shot, and Sedo — a Spanish exchange student who came off the bench to score three points and add seven rebounds and two assists Friday after scoring in double figures in Roff’s regional tournament victories over Rock Creek and Achille — had a chance to win it at the buzzer. But his attempted midair putback of a Parker miss rolled off the rim to force the second overtime.

Parker was just 6-for-21 from the field but went 14-for-15 from the line (including 12 straight in the two overtime periods) for his fourth straight game of 20 points or more this postseason, and he also had four rebounds, two assists and a team-high three steals.

“I can’t say enough about him,” Farriell said of Parker, who is averaging almost 20 points per game. “He likes the pressure. He feeds on it.

“C. J. (Stewart) did an amazing job of playing (the last 3:05 of regulation and the two overtimes) with four fouls,” Farriell added. “And Jason (Trimmer) hit some huge 3s in the fourth quarter.”

Stewart had four rebounds, two assists and two steals to go with his 13 points, and Trimmer had three rebounds, a steal, a blocked shot and an assist in the win, which sends Roff into the state tournament in the winner’s bracket for the first time during the Tigers’ current streak.

“This is SO much better than the last two,” said Trimmer, whose brother, Mitchell, was the leading scorer on Roff’s previous state tournament teams during the current streak. “It’s my senior year, and this time we’re going in through the front door.”

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