By Derrick Mahone
With the game on the line, Ola coach Curt Miller didn't have reservations in letting a reserve player take two big free throw shots.
His confidence in junior Tre McBride paid off.
The small forward sunk two free throws with seven seconds remaining in regulation to send the game at Stockbridge into overtime.
In the extra quarter, McBride would make three of four free throws and a layup to led the Mustangs to a 72-68 win over Stockbridge in a Region 4-AAAA contest Friday.
"He hit those big shots at the end," Miller said. "He was definitely the man. Those shots were huge."
McBride might have been calm on the outside, but he admitted after the game that he had a stomach full of butterflies.
"I'm not going to lie, I was pretty nervous," said McBride, who finished with 18 points off the bench. "I knew I had to make them because I had the school behind me, and this was a big game."
Stockbridge, which entered the game in second place in the region, appeared as if it was going to win the game in regulation. Tigers guard Chris Davis was fouled and about to attempt a pair of free throws when teammate Adonis Durden was called for a techique foul.
Davis hit the two free throws with seven seconds remaining to give the Tigers a 60-58 lead, and then McBride would tie it. For the game, Stockbridge was given four technique fouls.
"We are undiscipline team, and it showed tonight," Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley said. "I'm the most animated coach in the state, but all our techniques were called on our players. We are selfish and undiscipline and it starts with me. Until we stop being selfish, we are not going to win another game."
After leading the region most of the season, Stockbridge has been in a tailspin the last five games. The Tigers have lost three straight, and four of its last five games.
"We are just not doing the little things now," Kelley said. "We are not showing any character on the court, and none in the classroom. I believe we can turn it around, but the most important things is that those 16 players in there believe in themselves."
Stockbridge was led by Davis, who had a game-high 23 points while teammate Duante Campbell added 19. The game was tied eight times with 11 lead changes. However, both teams were hurt by turnovers. Ola had 23 turnovers while the Tigers had 19.
With the loss, Stockbridge dropped to 12-6 overall and 7-4 in the region. They are now two games out of first place behind idle North Clayton. Ola improved to 8-10 and 6-6.
"This was a huge win for us," Miller said. "We realize in this region that on any given day any team could win. I'm just proud of this team for not quitting tonight."
The Mustangs owe a big part of the win to McBride, who surprised that Miller let him take the crucial free throws at the end of the game. Miller said McBride has a nice touch and was playing well and decided to go with him.
"There was no question when they got that technique that he wasn't going to shoot it," Miller said. "I knew if it came off his hands right that it would probably go in because of his soft touch."
Ola (girls) 48, Stockbridge 43: Morgan Knowles scored 14 points as the Mustangs snapped a three-game losing streak on the road. J'Atora Jenkins added eight for the win, which improves Ola to 2-13 overall and 2-8 in the region.
It was Stockbridge's second straight loss despite the team-high 12 points from Amaria Moreland.
Knowles made two free throws with 26 second left to give the Tigers the lead for good at 44-43. She would extend the lead with another pair of free throws with 13 seconds remaining. Stockbridge ended the game missing a pair of 3-point attempts.