LEADWOOD — Clutch shooting by junior Jimmy Stricklin sparked Arcadia Valley to a pivotal 2-0 conference start on Friday night, just when depth at the guard positions was dangerously thinning for his team.
Starters Luke Nash and Austin Day fouled out in the fourth quarter, and the Tigers were already missing Clayton Jones with an ankle injury while trying to avenge two previous losses against rival West County.
Stricklin buried a huge 3-pointer to force overtime, then knocked down his fourth triple of the game in the extra session as Arcadia Valley rallied on the road for a hard-fought 75-73 victory.
The Tigers (7-5) parlayed the win with their road triumph at Valle Catholic last month to become an early favorite in the MAAA Small-School race. They will host Bismarck and travel to Kingston in upcoming contests.
Stricklin compiled 18 points and Zac Browers had 15 in a big performance from the Arcadia Valley bench. Austin Earnest finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds while Day netted 13.
Clayton LaBruyere paced West County with 24 points, connecting six times from long range. His final chance from the left wing caught the back iron, and Arcadia Valley controlled the long carom to dribble out the clock.
The Bulldogs (8-5) committed only 10 turnovers in defeat, but suffered through a dreadful and costly 15-of-34 showing at the free-throw line.
West County gained momentum in the third quarter with a LaBruyere three, and Kyle Coleman raced for a transition layup and 43-35 edge after Clayton Brinkley swatted an Arcadia Valley shot from behind.
The Tigers were visibly frustrated at times by the physical action and some disputed calls, but mounted a composed 11-2 response.
Browers scored on a dish from Zach Tedford, and Earnest caught an long outlet pass in the clear for another basket before zipping an entry pass to Day in a string of three successful possessions.
Stricklin dialed a 3-pointer to give Arcadia Valley its first lead at 46-45, but Bulldogs sophomore Parker Forshee immediately answered with a go-ahead layup, setting the stage for an entertaining finish.
LaBruyere and Day matched threes early in the fourth quarter to keep it tight, and neither squad could create separation at the charity stripe.
Stricklin banked in a pull-up jumper with 3:20 left in regulation, but West County eventually regained the lead at the line and was up 66-63 with one more defensive stop to make.
The Bulldogs were unable to switch when a high screen from Earnest caused LaBruyere to briefly stumble, and Stricklin found himself open on the left side to sink the tying shot with 6.8 seconds left.
Coleman nearly salvaged the game for West County moments later, but his baseline runner missed as the buzzer sounded.
Stricklin put Arcadia Valley in front 71-70 on his final dagger with 1:36 to play in overtime. Browers then followed a blocked shot for insurance.
The Bulldogs could only draw within 74-73 as Coleman buried a 16-footer near the foul line. He ended with 19 points while Brinkley added 11.
West County never trailed in the first half as Arcadia Valley missed its first six attempts from the perimeter.
Brinkley gathered loose pass to score in the post, then hit a turn-around jumper as the first quarter expired for a 17-10 lead.
The spread reached its zenith at 32-22 with the first half winding down. Arcadia Valley responded with two pivotal 3-point plays.
Day attacked off a made West County basket to score while being fouled. Tedford made an ensuing steal and found Earnest breaking ahead to bring the visitors to within 34-30 halftime.
West County took both previous meetings at the Arcadia Valley and Central tournaments, and struck first in overtime when LaBruyere drilled a 3-pointer from the right corner.
The teams could potentially square off again in conference and district tournament play.
Arcadia Valley 10 20 18 18 9 – 75
West County 17 17 19 18 7 – 73
Arcadia Valley – Jimmy Stricklin 18, Zac Browers 15, Austin Earnest 14, Austin Day 13, Zach Tedford 5, Levi Earnest 5, Collin Tedford 3, Luke Nash 2. 3-point FG – Stricklin 4, Day, Z Tedford. (FT: 13-26)
West County – Clayton LaBruyere 24, Kyle Coleman 19, Clayton Brinkley 11, Parker Forshee 9, Blake Barlow 7, Josh Barnett 3. 3-point FG – LaBrueyere 6. (FT: 15-34)