Josey didn’t want to think about bowing out at home without a state playoff bid in its possession.
Thanks to freshman Darius Williams, that didn’t happen.
Williams erupted for 16 fourth-quarter points and was calm at the foul line as Josey beat Glenn Hills, 68-59, on Wednesday to advance to the Region 3-AAA semifinals and secure a Class AAA state playoff berth.
“I just don’t want nobody to beat me in my own gym,” Williams said.
With Josey (17-9) clinging to a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Williams broke out for 16 of his team’s 31 points in the final period.
Williams first drilled a 3-pointer and later got a one-handed dunk as the Eagles took off for an 11-point lead.
Then, as Glenn Hills (12-14) tried to extend the game by fouling, Williams, who had 23 points, hit seven consecutive foul shots before finally missing one.
By then, however, Josey was ensured a win.
“He has so much talent, and we’ve been on him to be disciplined,” Eagles coach Jabari Levi said. “Tonight, he went through a stretch where he was focused and disciplined. That was the difference.”
William Bentley, Rueben Dean and Kyle Doyle also hit double figures in the win. At one point, Bentley made two free throws after the Eagles grabbed two huge offensive rebounds.
The strong finish kept the Spartans from seriously threatening in the final minutes.
But that wasn’t the case early, when Glenn Hills’ Leroy Graham drilled two 3s in a hurry in the second quarter.
The 3-pointers turned what was once a 15-4 Josey edge into a 17-17 game before Williams scored on a layup to give the Eagles the halftime lead.
Though Josey trailed for mere moments in the game, the win wasn’t assured until Williams and his teammates were clutch late.
“I’ve been here three years, and I hadn’t been (to the state playoffs) yet,” a smiling Levi said.