Basketball in March is not for the faint of heart. On Saturday, March 6, the Waldron Bulldogs battled the Elkins Elks in the consolation match-up in the 3A-1 Regional Tournament. The night before, the Bulldogs had dropped a heartbreaker at the buzzer in the regional semi-finals to a team they had already defeated two previous times during the season. The Bulldogs had no time to waste though as they had to face the Elks a mere sixteen hours later in the 3rd place game. On Wednesday, March 3, Waldron had secured their spot in the State Tournament with a win over Green Forest so the rest of the Regional Tournament was all about seeding for the next week.
The grind of the week was evident as the Bulldogs got off to a slow start against Elkins and fell behind by a score of 3 to 10 early in the contest. The Dogs soon answered has Jaden Hutchens went on a personal 8-0 run to shows some signs of life for the Bulldogs and take the lead at the end of the opening quarter. The first half ended with a buzzer-beating shot by Gada Wagner, which would serve as a precursor for things to come. The score was 27 to 30 in favor of the Elks.
The back and forth affair continued for the entire second half down to the final whistle. Literally! With 24.9 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs found themselves down by six trailing 47 to 53. Braden Williams chased down a long rebound and swung it over to Gada Wagner who stepped up to nail a long three-pointer to bring the Dogs to within three. Following a series of timeouts and some missed free throws by Elkins, THE SHOT happened. Holding a three-point advantage, Elkins missed a free throw with 14.6 seconds remaining as Isaac “The Real” Villarreal grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball up the floor before kicking it back to a trailing Gada Wagner who rose up and sank the 23 footer to knot the score up at 55, sending the game into overtime.
Elkins started the overtime with possession of the basketball but come up short on the opening shot as Caden Fuller grabbed one of his 7 boards. After an empty first possession, Braden Williams deflected and stole the next Elkins pass and flipped it forward to a racing Gada Wagner for a finger roll at the rim and a two-point lead. Waldron never looked back as they secured the 3rd seed in the 3A State Tournament in Clinton by a final of 65 to 61.
“I am so proud of our guys,” expressed Coach Josh Brown. “We had an emotional game the night before against Cedarville and started this game in a little bit of a rut but when we had to answer, we did! We got in some foul trouble early and had some underclassmen step in and gave us some good minutes. Thank you to everyone that has supported these guys this year! On to Clinton! #FlytheW” The Bulldogs will head to State on Thursday, March 11 to face the Baptist Prep Eagles in Clinton at 7 pm.