Trailing 54-52 with under a second left to go, Pinewood Christian Academy’s Taylor Lewis lofted a desperation shot from beyond the three-point arc toward the basket.
To the amazement of fans on both sides of a packed Bulloch Academy gymnasium, the moon ball stripped the net to give the Patriots a come-from-behind 55-54 victory in a crucial GISA Region 4-AAA contest Tuesday night.
Lewis, who led all scorers with 25 points, put a damper on Senior Night as the loss dropped the Gators to 15-8 overall and 6-5 in region play.
Bulloch held a safe 49-39 advantage with 3:49 left in the game. With the advantage, the Gators tried to be patient, running the clock while looking for the easy shot.
But the Patriots (12-9, 8-4) kept BA at bay with a tight man defense and some good play on the defensive boards. PCA chipped away at the margin, going on a 7-0 run which ended when Lewis converted a three-point play with 2:16 remaining for a 49-46 score.
The scoring was frenzied in the final minutes but PCA kept charging hard as they cut the lead to 53-52 on Will Tatum’s bank shot with 42.0 seconds left.
BA’s Zach Altany was fouled away from the basket with 38.7 seconds left but missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Patriots brought the ball down and pushed the ball around the perimeter, looking for an inside opening.
But when they pushed it inside, Gator junior Jaylen Evans was standing there. He was immediately fouled and went to the line with 9.8 left. He missed the front-end of a two-shot foul but hit the back end for a 54-52 lead.
PCA brought the ball in and called a timeout with 8.6 left. After the timeout, the Pats pushed the ball around the perimeter and found Lewis on the left wing with the clock almost gone. The Pinewood junior threw up the shot as the numbers spilled off the clock.
Patriot fans rushed the court after the buzzer in celebration.
In the opening quarter, the Gators raced out to a 7-0 lead which was highlighted by Win Lee’s acrobatics at the 4:25 mark. Lee had nine on the night.
Pinewood battled back and the track meet was on as all 10 players raced up and down the court. But the Gators won the sprint, taking a 17-8 lead at the buzzer. Altany had five of his 12 points in the quarter.
The Patriots roared back in the second and got a momentum boost from a Frank Spates dunk with 4:38 left. Altany’s trey with 3:45 remaining gave the Gators some breathing room at 24-16. Brandon Walker’s runner with 3:02 put BA up 10, 26-16. Walker had nine.
But PCA kept coming, outscoring Bulloch 11-3 in the final three minutes to cut the lead to 29-27 at the half.
Evans, who led the Gators with 15 points, hit a three-pointer to start the third. Davis Howell’s bomb gave BA a 39-30 lead with 3:29 left.
Bulloch travels to Martinez Friday to battle Augusta Prep in the final regular-season game.
Lady Patriots 40, Lady Gators 34
Pinewood took a 24-13 halftime lead and held on for dear life in the second quarter to get an important region victory.
Despite a 21-point performance by junior Taylor Collins, the Lady Gators couldn’t bridge the gap in the fourth quarter. Bulloch (17-7, 3-6) trimmed the PCA lead from 10 to four in the final eight minutes.
Collins slipped in the backdoor for a layup at the 1:59 mark to cut the lead to 34-30. PCA (17-5, 6-4) pulled out with free throws but Collins reeled the score back to 36-32 with 56 seconds left.
PCA’s Jessie Knauss, who led the Lady Patriots with 18 points, canned two free throws with 51.6 left. BA’s Anna Newton had a put back at the 43-second mark to bring the score to 38-34. Knauss hit two more from the charity stripe with 34.0 to end the scoring.
PCA took a 24-13 lead into the lockerroom.
Bulloch came out blazing in the third quarter, pushing the ball inside to Collins and Newton.
Collins scored six in the quarter and Newton had three.
Marianna Peebles hit a foul shot to cut the lead to six, 26-20, at the 3:53 mark. Knauss had six in the quarter for PCA as the Lady Patriots threatened to run away with it. But Newton hit both of her foul shots with 25.7 left to keep the Pinewood advantage at six, 30-24, and help keep BA close.
The Lady Gators battle the Lady Cavaliers of Augusta Prep Friday.
BA 61, PCA 45 (B-team boys)
Ben Carico pushed in 10 points to lead Bulloch to a double-digit trouncing of the Patriots in afternoon action.
Ross Rainey and Forest Spence scored nine each while Smith Reeves added eight. For PCA, Chad Cowart had a game-high 22 points.