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Hines' heroics stand out in Eagles' 64-63 triple-overtime triumph against Tigers

NIXA'S KEIVON FLINT AND GARRETT HINES celebrate the Eagles' triple-overtime win Thursday.
NIXA'S KEIVON FLINT AND GARRETT HINES celebrate the Eagles' triple-overtime win Thursday.

SPRINGFIELD — There was no sweet smell of victory for Garrett Hines on Thursday and not because Glendale’s sweltering cozy confines left players, coaches and fans wishing they had applied more deodorant.

Hines actually couldn’t smell much of anything since he was plagued with nasal congestion. He’s been dealing with a stuffy and runny nose for the better part of his senior season this winter.

"I am blowing my nose all the time,” Hines said. “I bring a Kleenex box with me to every game.”

Hines helped assure he didn’t need the Kleenex for tears, as he swished what proved to be a game-winning 3-pointer in Nixa’s 64-63 triple-overtime Class 6 District 5 first-round  win against Ozark.

Hines accounted for Nixa’s only three points in the final overtime by drilling a 3 with 1:27 remaining.

It wasn’t a surprise that Hines made the 3, but what was surprising was that he took the shot. 

With Nixa having held onto the ball for almost all four minutes of the first overtime and again for prolonged periods of time in the second and third overtimes, it seemed the Eagles were on their way toward working the clock again. They gained possession of the ball with 2:53 left to play and promptly passed it along the perimeter for the next minute-plus.

Suddenly, Hines received a pass while positioned 23 feet out on a wing and without hesitation fired away. He drilled the biggest shot of his life, just as he expected to.

“After the first overtime, I was ready to get playing,” Hines said. “I felt like we were the better team and I realized, 'Okay, we don't need to hold it, we can beat them.’

“With around 2:00 left, I was over (on the wing) and was there for a while. I saw it opening. Coach (Brock Blansit) kept telling me to go up(court) to give Devon (Kemp) a better angle to pass to me. But I stayed back because I wanted that shot there. Eventually, we got the ball to Adam (McKnight). Right when he got it, there was nobody on me. I was a little far back. But I was so prepared to hit it, that it went down.” 

Hines’ third 3 put a capper on his 27-point explosive, clutch performance for the ages. He was scoreless in the first quarter, but finished by scoring eight points in fourth quarter and adding five more points in the overtimes.

“I left it all out there,” Hines said. 

“We needed him,” teammate Josh Peters said. “Those were big shots he hit. I was really happy to see him hit them. I always expect Garrett to get hot and make everything.”

“He hit some absolutely big shots,” Blansit said. “You won't find a better kid who works hard that deserves this as much as Garrett Hines.”

Hines scored Nixa’s final four points in the final minute of regulation. He made two free throws with :50 remaining to pull Nixa within one of Ozark, 55-54, and followed up by making a 10-foot jumper with :12 left to put the Eagles up 56-55.

“I love shooting mid-range shots like those,” Hines said. “I had just taken a shot from that same spot. But the pressure kind of got to me and I missed it long. I was ready to take that shot again.”

It was no coincidence that Hines’ offensive game outlasted everyone else’s over the course of 44 minutes. As Blansit inferred, Hines works hard. He’s made his conditioning a strength, allowing his shooter’s legs to still have spring in them late Thursday.

“I'd say I'm definitely in the best shape of my life,” Hines said.

He credits his father, Clayton, for  making him gain countless reps while shooting with tired legs a top priority.

“He's taught me pretty much everything I know about basketball. I think he's pretty wise and  knows what's best for me,” Garrett said. “During practices with my Dad on Sundays, we always do five ‘suicides’ mixed in with our shooting workout.  Oh my gosh, all the time I don't want to do them. On Sunday, you just want to chill, after you went through a whole week of school. He's never forced me to go to the gym, but has said 'Garrett, we need to go get some work in.’”

Hines’ stamina and, of course, adrenaline, allowed him to shake off his congestion. He was so stuffed up that his voice was noticeably deeper.

“I'm not too bad,” he said. “But I've been blowing my nose non-stop.”

Sometime between the end of Nixa’s post-season and the start of Hines’ career at Missouri S&T, he plans to undergo septoplasty surgery to correct the deviated septum in his nose. 

“(Doctors) think they can help me out,” he said. “They can put (cartilage) back in place, Hopefully, that will help.”

Nixa also received a helping hand from another senior, as Peters made his presence felt by collecting two blocked shots in the final minute of the final overtime.

On Ozark’s final possession, Jake Garner drove to the lane and tried to bank in a left-handed layup. But Peters cleanly swatted the shot.

“I saw Garner go in, my man was in the corner, and I knew I had to help because he had his man beat,” Peters said. “I was the last line (of defense). 

“My offensive game was a little off tonight,” he added. “The most I could do was rebound and play defense. That was my role.”

Hines could relate to the feeling of being blocked by Peters.

“He’s so athletic and great at anticipating,” Hines said., “I tell everybody when I'm in the paint with him that I don't want to shoot it. I don't know how many times I've got my mid-range shot blocked by him.”

Ozark (11-16) had several opportunities to try to pull out the win, but missed good looks. Untimely turnovers also denied the Tigers in their upset bid.

Ozark was leading by six, 47-41, early in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were in the bonus with 3:56 remaining in  regulation while up 51-49. Garner, who turned in the best game of his career, gave Ozark a 55-52 lead on a layup with 1:10 left in regulation. He finished with 12 points.

‘The Big Three’ of Hudson Roberts, Jace Whatley and Kylan Pickren, combined for 42 points Roberts hit four 3s during his 17-point night. Jace Whatley contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds. Pickren had four of his 11 points in the extra periods. 

Blansit was pleased with backup Wyatt Vincent’s defense late on Roberts.

“Wyatt did an unbelievable job, after sitting for an hour and a half,” Blansit said. “He sat the whole game and then had three big stops guarding Roberts. Wyatt can really defend. Roberts could hardly get the ball.”

McKnight shot 8-of-14 from the field, but was 3-of-12 at the free-throw line on his way to 19-point, nine-rebound effort. He played the final  15:56 with four fouls.

Points in the paint were well-earned, keeping the game from being a free-throw contest. SWMO officials have obviously made it an emphasis to let the players play this season and Thursday was a prime example of that trend. As physical as the game was, remarkably no one fouled out.

A year ago in the teams’ District matchup, Nixa pulled out a 57-55 victory, thanks largely to hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the fourth quarter.

This time around, Nixa (21-6) survived 10-of-26 free throw shooting, in addition to 4-of-18 3-point shooting.

“This was the loudest game, most tiring game and most entertaining game,” Peters said. “It was fun.”

"It's always an entertaining game," Blansit said of the Nixa-Ozark rivalry. "People kept telling me, 'You guys will be fine tonight.' But I told them, 'You don't understand, I've been in this game for 24 years and it's always close, especially in the playoffs.'"