HAMMOND | If you spot a $10 bill on a crowded street, you don't pass by, hoping to find a $20 on the next block.
A few McDonald's wrappers and a wad or two of chewing gum, maybe. But life is not that predictable.
In Monday night's opener of the 12th Annual Region Roundball Rumble at the Civic Center, Gavit staged a furious second-half comeback against Morton only to lose in double overtime, 81-78.
Opportunity was right there for the Gladiators, perched on the foul line, where they were 23-of-42 and it cost them the game.
"It takes mentally tough kids to score around the basket and make free throws and that's what we're lacking," Gavit coach Brandon Ridenour said. "We're not telling them they've got to make 3-pointers. But they've got to make free throws.
"It comes down to players making plays."
Gavit (4-5, 0-2 Greater Lakes Conference) shot 17-of-33 from the line over four quarters but outscored Morton 17-5 in the final period to force the first OT.
From that point on, it was a heavyweight title fight.
Game MVP Vasha Davis had nine of his points in the two OTs, finishing with 16 to go with 20 rebounds and two blocks.
"We just had to go out there and play. It was our second conference game and we had to fight to the end," Davis said. "We have four wins now. We want to show people who the Morton Governors are. We're not young anymore."
Greg Flores added 17 points, 6-foot-6 Brandon Valentine 12 points and 10 rebounds, and D'Jari Griffin and Darryl Jones scored 10 apiece.
Morton (4-3, 2-0) also floundered at the line, missing 17 of its 40 attempts. Worse yet, both Valentine and Jason Griffin had fouled out late in the fourth quarter.
Ring! Ring! Ring! Calling Vasha Davis.
"Being a (6-2) point guard, I've got to be aggressive for my height," he explained. "I had cramps in both my legs but I had to play through it."
The game was as sloppy as it was close.
"We've got to finish. We missed seven free throws in a row during the overtimes," Morton assistant coach Scott Lush said. "We've got a veteran team. We've got experienced, varsity players. We've got to finish better.
"We knew what to expect from Gavit. They're a bigger, stronger team and we had to outplay them."
Cedric Smith's 26 points and 14 rebounds led the Gladiators, but he missed seven foul shots. Kevin Johnson had 13 points but failed on six attempts.
Alvin Johnson was impressive off the bench with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots. Aveeno Nasiloski chipped in 11 points and 10 boards for Gavit.
"We make our free throws and it doesn't go to overtime," Ridenour said.