Down by four points with under a minute to play, the Lewis Falcons tied the game and then sank a buzzer-beater for a 50-48 win over the hometown Destin Marlins in the Okaloosa County Middle School 1A Boys Basketball semifinals on Monday.
With the win, the Falcons advanced to play the Pryor Pirates for the championship on Tuesday at Pryor Middle School. Results were not available at press time.
In Monday’s semifinal game, Destin fell behind early in the first quarter, 5-12. In the last 10 seconds, Destin’s Zander Davis swished a 3-pointer to close it down to 12-8.
At the start of the second quarter, Davis came right back with another 3-pointer and Tabious Thompson got a steal and cashed in for a quick layup to give the Marlins their first lead of the game, 13-12. Lewis tie up the game with a free throw, but then Destin’s Allen Collins hit an inside shot to put Destin back on top. Thompson had another steal for a layup and Maddax Fayard drilled a 3-pointer right up the middle to put Destin on top 20-14. Lewis scored one more basket and Destin’s Thompson sank a free throw for a 21-16 game at the half.
“It was looking good after the second quarter,” said Destin Coach Bob Davies.
But then in the second half, the Falcons went to a man-to-man defense.
“We thought we were ready for it and we had the plays in for it, but we weren’t executing them,” Davies said. “The problem is we don’t see much man-to-man all year.”
Coach said they practice playing against a man-on-man defense in practice, but it’s not the same as game intensity.
In the third quarter, Lewis came out with Jacob Muse sinking a 3-pointer. Destin stayed on top with a couple of inside shots from Collins and Fayard. At that point, Lewis went on an 11-point scoring spree with Tyriq Pitts taking it inside for a couple of buckets plus nailing a 3-pointer. Lewis led 30-25. By the buzzer the game was knotted at 33-33.
In the fourth quarter, the game was deadlocked four times. With less than 2 minutes left on the clock Destin led 46-44 and managed to push it up 48-44 on a steal and a quick layup from Thompson. However, the Falcons came back with Pitts sinking two inside shots in the last 30 seconds to tie the game at 48-48.
Destin had control of the ball, but with the Falcons applying the pressure Destin was called for a travel and the ball went to the Falcons with 5 seconds left on the clock.
With the ball at midcourt, the Falcons inbound the ball and Pitts took it to the hole, beating the buzzer for the win.
“Our failure to execute against their man-to-man defense I think is probably what got us at the end,” Davies said. “Plus (I) blew a four point lead in the last minute.”
For the game, Lewis was led by Muse with 20 points and Pitts with 19. Tops for the Marlins were Thompson with 14 and Fayard with 12.
“It was absolutely a great season. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Davies said. “I think from now on people will see that Destin can play basketball. We may not be at the level of champions, but we beat both of the teams that are going to be playing for the championship.
“So we at least know we can compete, but we’ve got to close the deal next time,” he said.
Destin finished the season 12-4.