Watts propels Durango past Chaparral in overtime

Tyler Watts loves the excitement of overtime basketball, but not as much as he enjoys producing under pressure.

Watts did that Saturday, leading Durango with 21 points, and the host Trailblazers converted two Chaparral turnovers in the final minute of overtime to secure a 75-71 victory.

Watts, a senior forward, scored 17 points in the second half and overtime,  helping to nail down the victory by making 7 of 8 free-throw attempts.

“It is more stressful down the stretch, because you’re thinking, ‘I’ve got to make this shot,’ ” Watts said. “I need to help my team out, but if I miss it, it’s all on me. But we practice free throws for a reason.”

Durango (10-6) built its largest lead, 50-41, midway through the fourth quarter. Chaparral (10-7) rallied with an 11-2 surge and eventually went ahead 60-57 with 33 seconds to play in regulation.

The Trailblazers quickly regained the lead with four points in 13 seconds, but Chaparral’s Tyree McNeal made the second of two free throws to force a 61-all tie. Durango’s Chris Mellor nearly won it with a desperation 3-pointer from midcourt, but the ball ricocheted off the rim.

In overtime, the Trailblazers relied on Watts in the post and dribble penetration by guard Paris Estrada. The junior made two baskets in overtime and finished with 17 points.

“This definitely gets us ready for league,” Durango coach DeShawn Henry said. “Our league is tough, and we have a couple of difficult home games next week.”

Chaparral was powered by sophomore guard Patrick Savoy with 33 points. He made 10 of 19 field goals and 9 of 11 free throws.

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