The clash between the Bulldogs of Harlem High School and Butler High School's girls basketball teams Tuesday was everything it was billed to be.
Harlem was pinned with its first loss of the season, a 52-48 overtime thriller, but will have another shot when they play host to Butler on Feb. 3.
Both teams entered Tuesday's game with 6-0 Region 3-AAAA records.
Sophomore Ebony Wells scored 24 points for Harlem (10-1, 6-1), which entered the game having defeated all but two of its opponents by at least 20 points. Nicole Wells' layup with 13 seconds remaining forced overtime.
Harlem took the lead on the first possession of overtime on Ebony Wells' bucket. Harlem didn't score again until 1.3 seconds remained.
Butler made 6 of 12 free throws in overtime and was never threatened after Harlem point guard Chancellor Martin fouled out with 1:55 left.
Harlem overcame a double-digit deficit during the fourth quarter. Butler (10-2, 7-0) scored the first 12 points of the final quarter. Harlem then forced overtime by erasing a six-point deficit during the final two minutes of regulation.
Butler went ahead for good with 2:25 left in overtime on Ebonie Harris' 17-footer.
"So many times we could have crumbled," Butler coach Keisha Stewart said.
Butler sophomore point guard Ashley Watts scored a team-high 18 points. Meka Carter (16) and Harris (10) also scored in double figures.
"Ever since I've been here we've been trying to build a program," said Stewart, in her fourth season. "We're not at the top yet, but we took a big step."
"This program still has a ways to go."
Harlem is in the similar situation. After experiencing some success last year with the Wells sisters, the Bulldogs got a boost with the arrival of Martin, a former Glenn Hills player.
Coach Amy Slagle's team rolled through its first 10 games with an average margin of victory of 25.7 points.
Augusta Chronicle staff writer Matt Middleton contributed to this report.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.