By Doug Gorman
If Union Grove basketball coach Russ Atkins was looking for a spark to ignite his team, he might have just found it Tuesday night against Region 2-AAAAA rival Douglass High School.
Despite a couple of brief leads, the Wolverines spent nearly 31 minutes trying to catch the Astros on the scoreboard.
Then with 8.91 seconds remaining in regulation, Zavier Preston connected on a pair of free throws to tie the game at 49-all.
Douglass then had one last chance to come up with some regulation heroics, but the Astros were unable to get a clear shot at the basket, and the game went into overtime.
From there, the Wolverines took control, knocking off the Astros 58-53.
The Wolverines improved to 3-3 overall and 2-1 in Region 2-AAAAA.
Union Grove's Zavier Preston scored 17 and Jordan Nelson added 16 en route to the win.
Douglass' Sadaerius Henry led the Astros with 17 points.
"It was an emotional win," Atkins said. "It was like I told the team, we didn't play well offensively, but we found a way to make plays when we needed them."
Including from the free throw line when it counted.
Union Grove was only 30-of-47 from the line against the Astros, but the fourth quarter and overtime period proved to be big for the Wolverines from the charity stripe.
The Wolverines were 8-of-11 shooting free throws in the overtime period.
Nelson got things started for Union Grove in the overtime period with a basket and then converted a free throw to give the Wolverines a 54-51.
The rest of Union Grove's overtime scoring came from the line as Nelson and Jaylan Wise also contributed.
Neither team scored much in the early going. Douglass built a 9-4 lead at the end of the first quarter, and increased to 20-17 at the break.
Nelson's 3-point shot in the third quarter helped give the Wolverines one of their few leads of the game at 23-22, but Douglass led 30-27 heading into the fourth quarter.
Union Grove plays again Saturday against Fayette County in the Eagle's Landing Christian holiday tournament.
"It will be good for us to play against some competition outside the region," Atkins said. "We will have a chance to play several games in a short amount of time, and that is what we are going to have to do come tournament time."
Douglass 50, Union Grove 45 (girls): After starting the season with four wins in a row, the Union Grove Lady Wolverines have hit a bit of losing streak, dropping their last three contest.
The skid continued Tuesday night as the Lady Wolverines fell to Douglass 50-45 in a Region 2-AAAAA contest.
Union Grove dropped to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in Region 2-AAAAA.
Georgia-bound Khaalidah Miller led all scorers with 19 points for Douglass.
Teammate Chelsea Warfield added 15.
Union Grove's Corrine White scored 13 points and Tierra Newell added 12.
Although Douglass led from start to finish, even building the lead to double digits, the Lady Wolverines kept the game close with timely free throwing shooting.
Douglass led 19-13 at the end of the first quarter, pushed the lead to 29-22 at the break.
The Lady Astros had a chance to blow the game open in the third quarter, when it held the Lady Wolverines to just two field goals, both from Shavonne Orr as Douglass led 37-29 at the break.
Newell's second 3-point shot of the night with 15 seconds left in the game cut the Douglass led to 50-42, but it was one of just two shots Union Grove converted from the field in the fourth quarter as Lady Astros held off the Lady Wolverines late rally attempt.