Florala wins 8th grade championship with buzzer-beater

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 4, 2015


Rashaan Coleman goes up for a jumper.

Rashaan Coleman goes up for a jumper.

It took a buzzer beater to do it, but the Florala Wildcats eighth grade boys’ knocked off the Fleeta Falcons 37-35 in Covington County Junior High basketball tournament championship game Thursday night in Pleasant Home.

It was a closely contested game from the moment of tipoff and it was the Wildcats who were quick to establish the first lead of the game.

Racing down the court, Rashaad Coleman found Anthone Stone streaking to the basket and fired in a pass that Stone converted to a layup.

Coleman flew the ball when the Falcons tried to inbound and came up with a steal and was fouled in the process of shooting. Coleman hit one free throw to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.

It was then time for the Falcons to start flying and Tommy Gingpho made a strong move to the basket to give Fleeta their first points of the game.

Trevor Brooks then converted a layup to put Fleeta on top 4-3 early in the first period. Brooks got another bucket a few moments later off an assist from Travis Floyd to put the Falcons up 6-3.

Coleman continued to play with a hot hand and tied the game up 6-6 with three-straight points.

Clay Eaton corralled an offensive rebound for the Falcons and put it back in to put the Falcons up 8-6 and another strong move the basket from Gingpho extended the lead to 10-6.

Florala came racing back with a layup from Lee Stewart and 3-pointer from Logan West had the Wildcats up 12-10 with just a few minutes left in the first half.

Fleeta quickly moved down the court and got a basket to tie the game 12-12.

The Wildcats got a free throw from Stone to follow, but a quick score from Skyler Wixie off an assist from Brooks put Fleeta on top 14-13.

The lead changed hands again when Jacob Hammac converted a layup from an assist from Stewart.

Coleman extended the lead to 16-14 with a layup and then Hammac made it 18-14 with a jumper to close out the scoring in the second period.

Fleeta came out with two strong scores from Gingpho to tie the game up at 18-18.

Coleman once again put the Wildcats back up with a free throw. Hammac then finished a strong drive with layup to put the Wildcats up 21-18.

Seconds later, Gingpho was driving aggressively to the basket converting a layup and drawing a foul in the process. Gingpho completed the old-fashioned 3-point play to tie the game 21-21.

Florala then went on a quick 4-0 run to take a 25-21 lead, but the Falcons closed out the third period with a 6-0 run and held a 27-25 lead heading into the final period.

Fleeta came out on fire to start the fourth and quickly mounted a 30-25 lead.

Around the halfway point of the fourth period, Nicholas Tubberville sank a basket to put Fleeta up 34-29.

Coleman’s hand began heating up for the Wildcats and six-straight points put Florala up 35-34 with under a minute to play.

With the clock winding down, Florala looked to just run out the clock but as Stone jumped up to pass the ball he was quickly surrounded and came back down the ground with the ball still in his hands, turning the ball back over to Falcons on a traveling violation.

A foul on the ensuing play put Brooks on the line for the Falcons for a 1-and-1 opportunity. Brooks hit the first basket to tie the game, but missed the second shot.

Fleeta then forced a turnover when a Florala pass sailed out of bounds.

Florala applied pressure on the inbound pass, and Stone made up for his earlier turnover by stepping in front of the inbound pass and putting it right back up for a layup to give the Wildcats a 37-35 lead as the final buzzer sounded.

Gingpho led the Falcons with 13 points and Brooks finished with 12.

“It was extremely hard-fought game,” Fleeta coach Scott Gafford said. “If our two post players don’t foul out at the end, we maybe could have won. That really hurt us, but most people didn’t think we would win a game in the tournament and here we are in the championship game. It was a great game and I’ve very proud of them.”

Coleman was the leading scorer for the Wildcats with 16 points and Stone finished the night with 7.

“First off, Fleeta did an outstanding job,” Florala coach Troy Stewart said. “Coach Gafford came in with a great game plan, and they were ready for us. The biggest thing for us tonight was our defensive pressure. Defense wins championship and it showed there at the end.”