By CHIP CIRILLO | Photos by STEVE WHEELER
Foul trouble hurt Summit early, but it hurt Independence worse late.
After falling behind in the first half with 6-foot-9 Demontay Dixon on the bench with three fouls, the Spartans rallied for a 76-71 overtime win at Independence on Tuesday night.
Eagles guard Grayson Murphy scored a game-high 34 points before fouling out with 1:04 left in OT. Teammates Mack James, Corbin Daugherty and Joe Holdheide also fouled out.
“It’s definitely tough,” Spartans coach Josh Goodwin said. “(Demontay) makes us a much better team, so when he’s not in there it changes the complexity of our team, for sure, but I thought Tai Carter stepped up and was really tough. We had a lot of guys step in and play their role.”
Navy signee John Carter led Summit (15-2, 4-0 District 11-AAA) with a season-high 30 points in front of a near-capacity crowd.
The 6-foot-4 senior’s 3-pointer with 45 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 63, sending it into OT. His left ankle was wrapped in ice after the game after he injured it on the last play of regulation.
“We’ve been preaching mental toughness,” Carter said. “We weren’t getting the calls early, but we knew we would get them late. So, we knew that it was all going to go around full circle.”
Carter said he expected Dixon to get two quick fouls early and that’s exactly what happened.
Dixon was on the bench for 12 minutes in the first half as Independence (11-7, 3-2) built a surprising 31-21 halftime lead over the state’s fifth-ranked Class AAA team.
Dixon picked up his third foul with 6:22 left in the half and his fourth with 5:38 left in regulation before finishing with nine points.
Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, East Tennessee State, Belmont, Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and Lipscomb all showed interest in the junior this week.
Carter’s brother, Tai, added 16 points and Jaden Lewis fouled out with 14.
“My two primary ballhandlers were out of the game,” Eagles coach Greg Glass said of Murphy and James. “We had a lot of subs in (late). A lot of guys that play JV were playing overtime minutes in a heated rivalry varsity game.
“So, as I walked in the locker room, I told them, ‘As much as I hate to lose a game, you left it all out there on the court and we had our opportunities.’ ”
Independence built a 13-point lead early in the third quarter before Summit got back in the game with a 19-4 run.
The Spartans outscored the depleted Eagles 13-8 in OT, leading most of the way.
“It was frustrating how the fouls were going – a lot of ticky-tack,” Tai Carter said. “But we’ve been in situations like that before and we’ve just got to tough it out, and try to play as one.”
Summit responded well after suffering its second loss of the season the night before against Hamilton Heights, a nationally ranked powerhouse that boasts a Kentucky signee in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
First-place Summit is a half-game ahead of Brentwood (16-3, 4-1) in the district standings.
Independence fell into a third-place tie with Franklin (10-6, 3-2) after losing its third straight.
Summit visits Dickson County on Friday.
Independence visits Brentwood on Thursday.