ALBANY, Ga. - Two points.
That was the brick wall hit head-on by both Richmond Academy and Josey. That was the wrecking ball that brought a pair of championship dreams tumbling down Friday at the Albany Civic Center.
In the semifinals of the Class AAA South Regional, a one-basket differential not only ended a season for two teams, but it also closed the book on Don Brock, the longtime Musketeers coach.
Brock, with more than 350 coaching victories in 25 years at ARC, says he will retire at the end of the school year.
"This is definitely it," said Brock, after losing to No. 1-ranked Woodward Academy, 70-68, in ARC's first state-tournament appearance since 1989. "When the final buzzer sounded I knew it was time for me to go. I hurt for these kids to lose like that."
Josey suffered a similarly devastating result, falling in overtime to Sandy Creek, 67-65.
"I feel for the seniors on this team, because they were the heart and soul all year," said first-year Josey coach Emmett Rouse, who led the Eagles to a 19-8 record. "I told them I enjoyed the ride while it lasted, and that I learned a lot from them this year."
With Sandy Creek (22-6) leading 66-65 with 11 seconds left in overtime, senior Jaamal Tate missed badly on a long 3-point attempt, and the Patriots went up
67-65 when John Beckett made one of two free throws.
Josey stormed down court with a chance to win but, with five seconds left, sophomore Ricardo Middleton's shot from beyond the arc in the corner was blocked.
Tate, who had the hot hand for Josey in the second half, finished with six 3-pointers for 18 points. Senior Rod Ashmore, who was missed by the Eagles in overtime after he fouled out near the end of regulation, led with 21 points.
"I give him a lot of credit for having the guts to take that shot," Rouse said of Tate. "He's a senior and he wanted to go out a winner, but it just didn't work out for him."
Richmond sealed its fate by squandering an eight-point lead in the final 3:30. Woodward (26-1) went ahead for good with 14.7 seconds remaining on a pair of free throws by junior Chas Criss.
Senior Antwan Dent's 3-point attempt with 3.2 seconds hit the rim but bounced right into the hands of leaping ARC senior Ronald Glenn. At the buzzer, Glenn's putback rimmed out, and the 6-foot-5 forward and several teammates collapsed to the floor in tears.
Free-throw shooting hurt the Musketeers (22-7), especially in the fourth quarter, when they made only three of nine from the line. For the game, ARC was 15-for-26 for 58 percent.
"This hurts so bad, I don't know what to say," said Dent, who finished a brilliant final season with 17 points and seven rebounds. "We wanted to get a ring for coach Brock, and I'm sorry for him and for the seniors."
"Brock is a class guy," said Robert Rhodes, Brock's likely successor next season after six seasons as his assistant coach. "I've known him for 20 years and he always has been straight up and has always been here for the kids. I wanted to get him that ring so bad. This hurts so much. This is going to be a very tough night for all of us."
JOSEY (65)- Tyrone Hayes 1-4-6, Rod Ashmore 7-4-21, Deon Grant 2-2-6, Marco Brown 3-1-7, Jamaal Tate 6-0-18, Tim Cannon 0-0-0, Ricardo Middleton 1-0-3, Shelton Nash 0-0-0, Larry Wingate 1-0-2, Antonio Lattimore 1-0-2. Totals 22-11-65.
SANDY CREEK (67)- Carlton Griffin 4-2-10, Earl Caruthers 5-3-13, Jabari Holloway 7-2-16, John Beckett 6-3-18, Jay Fields 2-4-8, Matt Thompson 1-0-2. Totals 25-14-67.
Josey17 8 16 20 4- 65
Sandy Creek14 11 17 19 6- 67
3-point goals: Josey 10 (Tate 6, Ashmore 3, Middleton 1); Sandy Creek 3 (Beckett 3).
WOODWARD ACADEMY (70)- Zack Mitchell 2-5-9, Anthony Thomas 7-3-21, Alex Brennan 4-2-10, Jon Mayeske 1-0-3, Regiie Wilkins 3-1-7, Chas Criss 3-2-10, Tony Watkins 1-0-2, Steve Holmes 3-2-8. Totals 24-15-70.
RICHMOND ACADEMY (68)- Antwan Dent 8-0-17, Quincy Murphy 1-4-6, Ronald Glenn 2-2-6, Charlie Williams 2-2-7, Tuffy Walker 4-3-13, Kenny Dukes 3-3-9, J.J. Pierce 3-1-7, Amos Britton 1-0-2, Chris Jackson 1-0-2. Totals 25-15-68.
Woodward Academy 18 16 20 16-70
Richmond Academy 20 15 18 15-68
3-point goals: Woodward 7 (Thomas 4, Criss 2, Mayeske 1); ARC 3 (Walker 2, Dent).
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