By Chris McCarthy/Editor
In a game filled with big shots, Ashville wound up making the final clutch baskets in a 44-40 win over Glencoe in the Class 3A, Area 9 Tournament championship game on Monday (Feb. 11) at GHS.
With 19 seconds left in regulation and the Bulldogs clinging to a one-point lead, the host Yellow Jackets were working the clock for the game-winning basket when they were called for an offensive foul.
Ashville was in the foul shooting bonus at that point, and Damien Bothwell sank both ends of a 1-and-1 to make it 42-39.
Joseph Fails was fouled on the ensuing Glencoe possession and sank one of two free throws to keep the hosts within 42-40.
The Yellow Jackets had to foul, however, and the hosts wound up sending Bulldog sharpshooter Ray Harris to the line.
Harris, who knocked down a pair of 3-point baskets earlier in the quarter, sank both shots to make it a two-possession game, effectively sealing the victory. Harris scored eight of his14 points over the final 5:28.
Glencoe (19-10) visits Weaver in Friday’s subregional round, while Ashville (18-11) hosts Piedmont.
Glencoe head coach Tommy Stanley placed the loss squarely on his shoulders.
“When you lose close ballgames, it comes down to coaching, and I got out-coached by Coach (Anthony) Rice tonight. We had the lead late and we lost it. [Ashville] hit some 3’s that really hurt us, and we didn’t make any free throws down the stretch and they did. Our kids played their tails off, and it’s my fault.”
Neither team led by more four points in the second half, and Austin Hancock’s basket with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter provided the hosts with a 31-30 advantage.
Respective field goals from Hancock and Dillon Tidmore early in the forth quarter gave the Yellow Jackets their largest lead of the night at 35-31.
Two straight treys from Harris forced a 37-37 tie, and a Bothwell free throw gave the visitors a one-point lead with 3:40 left.
Glencoe regained the advantage 17 seconds later on Anthony Morris’ layup, but that was the last time that the Jackets scored from the field.
A running layup by Marcellus Brown made it 40-39 in favor of Ashville, and Bothwell and Harris combined to go 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final seconds.
Hancock led Glencoe with 18 points, followed by Brock Little with nine and Scott Bradley with six.
Rice was proud of his team winning a playoff game on the road without starting center E.J. Moss, who as out with a broken arm.
“E.J. is our big man, so for us to come back from that, we stepped up. Damien Bothwell took E.J.’s spot, and played really well. Tonight we made the extra pass, we blocked out, we did everything we needed to do to win.”
The Bulldogs took an early 8-3 lead before Hancock’s buzzer-beating 3-point basket drew Glencoe within 11-8 after one quarter.
Hancock scored four more points in the second period to help the Yellow Jackets go up 18-17 at one point, but five points from Alex Looney over the final two minutes of the first half staked Ashville to a 22-18 lead.
Brown finished with 14 points for Ashville, while Alex Looney added nine and Bothwell chipped in seven.
In the tournament semifinals on Feb. 8, Glencoe defeated Susan Moore, 73-48, while Ashville beat Cleveland, 59-46.