There were moments, both in regulation and overtime, when Laurel's perfect Region 5-5A record was in serious jeopardy.
Nevertheless, they survived.
Behind the late game-heroics from Antwan Hatten on Senior Night, Laurel survived an upset attempt by West Jones Friday night 69-68 in overtime.
"First off, a big congratulations to West Jones," said Laurel head coach Marcus Price. "They're an up and coming team. Coach [Arnold] had his team prepared. They played well and did all the little things right.
“We’re very fortunate to win this game.”
The win completed regular-season Region 5-5A play as the Tornadoes finished unbeaten to earn the No. 1 seed heading in next week's Region Tournament.
There were 17 lead changes in regulation that eventually ended in a 57-57 tie. West Jones junior guard Cedric Bender tossed a no-look layup behind his head in the final minute to force Laurel into overtime. Bender led West Jones with 16 points.
Trailing by as many as four in overtime, 68-64, Laurel evened the score once again on a pair of baskets by sophomore Carlos Martin and Hatten. Hatten’s basket came with a foul. He made the free basket for a three-point play to give Laurel the lead, 69-68.
"Hatten has been our hero all year," said Price. "He's just an outstanding young man. He came up big for us when we needed him. I told him near the end that it was his time and his game to win or lose. And he delivered."
Hatten also led Laurel in points with 17.
After a blocked shot on the other end, Laurel celebrated too early and was called for travel with four seconds remaining. The Tornadoes blocked another West Jones shot attempt as time expired on the subsequent play.
“We did just about everything wrong we could to lose the game,” Price said, “and we just happened to win.”
Kylin Dixon and Benjamin Murry finished in the double-digits too with 12 and 11, respectively.
Laurel will enter the Region 5-5A Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
"Next Saturday morning, every team in the state will be 0-0," noted Price. "It doesn't matter what you did in the preseason; it doesn't matter what you did in district play, it's all about the district tournament. We'll play South Jones in there first round, but the way they've been playing it pretty much anyone's game and tournament."