CLINCHCO - St. Paul used a furious last-minute comeback to force overtime, but the Deacons couldn't force their way past Rye Cove.
Adam Hood dropped 38 points to go with nine rebounds and the War Eagles made just enough free throws in the extra period to claim a 68-58 win Friday night in the Cumberland District boys semifinals at Clinchco Elementary School.
Rye Cove (16-8) went on a 16-2 run in the second quarter to build a commanding lead and took a 10-point advantage into the fourth quarter.
But after managing only 24 points in the first three periods, the Deacons exploded for 28 in the fourth.
St. Paul used a swarming full-court press and a monster effort inside by Ryan Padgett to tie the game at 52 with 30 seconds left in regulation.
The Deacons (16-8), who trailed by seven points with less then two minutes remaining, went to overtime riding a tidal wave of momentum.
"There was a little bit too much excitement, if you ask me," Rye Cove coach Reagan Mullins said of the furious finish. "But we persevered, and that showed me a lot about our basketball team."
Once in overtime, a layup by John Franklin, a couple more by Hood and a flurry of foul shots finished off St. Paul.
"We were able to get some points on the board," Mullins said. "They had all the momentum going into overtime, but we were able to break the ice and take control."
For the Deacons, forcing overtime and walking away empty-handed was frustrating.
"It's been a very special season," St. Paul coach Patrick Damron said. "But the unfortunate thing is that one of us had to lose and we're probably two of the top teams in the region."
Franklin and Michael Thacker added 10 points each for Rye Cove.
Nathan Evans wrapped up his career with a 21-point effort for St. Paul, Padgett added 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Brandon Phillips wound up with 10 points.
Rye Cove moves on to face Castlewood tonight at 7:30 in the tournament title game.
The Blue Devils built a 20-point halftime lead on the strength of their outside shooting and cruised past Twin Springs 58-35 in the other semifinal.
Castlewood hit eight 3-pointers and in the first half and 11 in all as the Blue Devils' offense worked nearly to perfection.
"I thought we played a slow, methodical game," Castlewood coach Aaron Williams said. "We got really good shots and attacked the right way."
Whether the ball was moving inside out or around the perimeter, it usually found its way into the hands of a shooter who knew what to do with it.
The Blue Devils (21-1) went 11-of-23 on 3-pointers in the contest and turned over the ball just nine times.
After building the large lead, Williams said it was just a matter of making the Titans (9-13) work for their baskets.
"We wanted to make every possession tough," he said. "What points they got, they had to earn."
Nobody had to work harder that Twin Springs' star senior Mark Dockery.
Dockery found little to no room to operate for most of the game and wound up with a quiet 13-point effort.
Devon Matthews also had 13 points for the Titans.
Chris Smith led a balanced Castlewood offensive attack with 14 points while Drew Justice added 12 points and six rebounds.
Brad McReynolds recorded a double-double for the Blue Devils with his 11 points and 10 boards while Ethan Collins also contributed 11 points.