Foul at buzzer costs PHS game

Published 12:02 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

As the buzzer sounded at the end of their game Monday evening, the Pleasant Home Eagles thought they were the Class 1A, Area 3 champions.

Instead, referees ruled that McKenzie’s Calvin Henderson was fouled on the last shot of the game and he knocked down two free throws to give McKenzie an improbable 41-40 victory.

“That’s as hard as it gets,” Pleasant Home coach Jerry Davis said. “We thought at the end of regulation that we had won the thing, and then you have that happen. But you have to give McKenzie’s kid credit; he still had to hit those two free throws at the end.”

The last 30 seconds of the ball game provided a wild finish.

Pleasant Home’s Stephen Davis hit a layup with 30 seconds left to give the Eagles a 40-37 lead. McKenzie answered right back on a short jump shot by Emmanuel Johnson that cut that lead to one point with 16.1 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing possession, Pleasant Home was called for a travel and the Tigers got the ball back with 13.3 seconds left. McKenzie could not get off a shot and with 5.5 seconds left in the game, Pleasant Home tied up a loose ball for a jumpball, with the arrow pointing in the Eagles’ favor.

Pleasant Home received the ball on the baseline but could not control the inbounds pass, knocking it out of bounds and giving McKenzie the ball again with 4.2 seconds left.

“We should have been able to get the ball in bounds, and (the last-second free throws) would have never been part of it,” Davis said. “We have ourselves to blame, also. I give McKenzie credit; they didn’t quit and they battled.”

Henderson inbounded the ball to Johnson, who passed back to Henderson for a short 5-foot jump shot that glanced off the back rim as the buzzer sounded and the score read 40-39 in the Eagles’ favor. Pleasant Home’s bench exploded onto the court, but the officials sent everyone back and awarded Henderson the two free throws.

“It’s really hard,” Pleasant Home senior Stephen Davis said. “I didn’t realize how much it meant to me until it was over and it turned out that we didn’t win.”

The Eagles held a 30-22 lead after three quarters of play, but the Tigers gradually whittled that lead away.

“I told my guys that we just needed one or two good defensive plays and we could get back into the ball game,” McKenzie coach Miles Davis said. “We were able to force (Pleasant Home) into a few turnovers and get things going in the right direction for ourselves.”

Pleasant Home also led 13-10 after the first quarter and 22-14 at halftime.

The Eagles will travel Friday to face Brantley in the sub-region. Brantley defeated Providence Christian 86-81 in the Area 4 championship game.

“We’ve just got to come back hard to practice this week and work to beat a tougher team than the one we thought we’d be facing,” Stephen Davis said. “I know that we can, we just have to work hard.”