A two-handed slam by Oneida senior Clay Jeffers midway through the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game against Cumberland Gap helped propel the Indians to a 64-61 upset win over the Panthers.
Oneida (16-10) trailed by as much as nine points late in the third quarter before pulling off the sterling fourth quarter comeback, due in no small part to Jeffers. The senior forward nailed three 3-point shots in the final five minutes of the game, including the game-winner with 30 seconds remaining. He finished with a team-high 23 points and five rebounds, his second 20-point outing in as many nights.
But it was a sequence midway through the final period that seemed to light a fire under the team. With Oneida trailing 49-45 with five minutes remaining, Trevor Allen scooped up a loose ball and fired a pass to a wide open Jeffers at the other end. Jeffers' dunk brought the near-capacity crowd to its feet, creating a home-court advantage over the last four minutes of the game that the Indians had not enjoyed in several seasons.
Still, Cumberland Gap (15-8) appeared on the verge of escaping with the win it came to Oneida expecting to earn. A 3-point shot by Blake Arnold gave the Panthers a 61-59 lead with under a minute remaining. But Jeffers struck back with a trey at the other end with 36 seconds left to give the Indians a 62-61 lead. A rebound after a missed shot on Cumberland Gap's end was snagged by -- who else -- Jeffers, who found fellow senior Noah Duncan wide open under the basket for a layup and a 64-61 lead. Matt Wade missed a 3-point shot and Cole West grabbed the rebound in the waning seconds, leading to a wild celebration by the Oneida bench.
The win was Oneida's third consecutive victory after suffering through a January stretch that saw the Indians lose six of seven games. Oneida will close out the regular season with a visit from Oliver Springs on Friday.
Cole West finished with 19 points and six rebounds, while Duncan had 14 points for the Indians. Cumberland Gap was led by Trevor Graves' 14 points. Isaac Daniels added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
As a team, Oneida shot a season-high 55 percent from the field and made all 11 of its free throws to overcome a 32-23 rebounding advantage by Cumberland Gap.
SCORING: Oneida -- C. Jeffers 23, C. West 19, Duncan 14, Allen 8. Cumberland Gap -- Graves 24, Daniels 12, Bullins 9, Hatmaker 7, King 4, Arnold 3, Parker 2.