Despite letting a 13-point halftime lead slip away, the Glen Oaks High School staved off a meltdown, knocking off Madison Prep 71-60 in an overtime thriller.

“We knew that we would have to fight hard here tonight to get the win,” Glen Oaks coach Henry Adger said. “This was a big test on the road for us. I’m proud that this team never quit fighting.”

With the game tied at 54-54 going into the extra period, Glen Oaks (7-4) came out of the gates with seven quick points to go up 61-55. From there, the Panthers sealed the game at the free-throw line.

It was a tough pill to swallow for Madison Prep coach Jeffery Jones as he witnessed his team roar back from a sluggish first half, only to come up a short at the end.

“There were several things along the way that we did that you cannot do against a good team like Glen Oaks,” Jones said. “They were a step quicker than us tonight and outhustled us.”

Going up against LSU signee Jarell Martin down on the block all night, Glen Oaks senior forward Chris Thomas turned in a stellar performance, leading the Panthers 29 points while also pulling down 15 rebounds.

With the momentum hanging in the balance at the start of the fourth quarter, Thomas and Martin traded baskets for the first three minutes to combine for 18 points. But it was Thomas’ extra effort on the boards that vaulted the Panthers over the top.

“I can’t say enough about what he means to this team,” Adger said of Thomas. “He looks forward to battling players like Jarell Martin. It’s a big challenge, and he stepped up and showed that he is a true man tonight.”

Martin, despite being held scoreless in the second quarter, equaled Thomas with 29 points and led Madison Prep (18-3) with 11 rebounds and three blocks.

“He is a Division I talent and he played like it, especially in the second half,” Jones said of Martin. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t have enough guys to help out.”

After Thomas hit a 10-foot jump shot early in the first quarter to give Glen Oaks a one-point lead, Martin answered with a basket on each of Madison Prep’s next three trips down to go up 12-7. Panthers guard Devin Womack, who finished with 17 points, answered with three of his own to erase the early deficit.

In the second quarter, Adger had his defense switch from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone with the sole purpose of keeping the ball out of Martin’s hands. It worked to perfection as Madison Prep was held to six points in the quarter, giving the Panthers a 32-19 lead at halftime.

“We wanted to change something up to throw off their rhythm,” Adger said. “I thought our guards did a tremendous job against them and forcing tough jump shots on the perimeter.”

However, Glen Oaks could only keep Martin quiet for so long. His eight points in the third quarter help pull the Chargers within four points. That momentum carried onto the fourth, as Martin threw down a couple of emphatic dunks to cut Glen Oaks’ lead to 43-42.

But Thomas answered on the other end, hitting all of his free throws after he was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. Thomas went to the line seven times in the fourth quarter and was perfect from the line.

Madison Prep finally pulled even with a minute to go on two Martin free throws. After both teams traded empty possessions, Glen Oaks point guard Jalen Variste had a chance to end the game in regulation. Variste found his way into the lane and lofted up a floater as time expired, but the ball hit the back of the rim and bounced out, sending the game to overtime.