The Josey-Westover rematch from last year's state semifinals lived up to its billing this year.
In a game that consisted of 10 ties and lead changes, Georgia Class AAA preseason No. 1 Josey defeated No. 8 Westover 57-56 in overtime at the fifth annual 100 Black Men of Augusta Thanksgiving Tournament.
Josey's Cornelius Mitchell made a behind-the-back shot with 7 seconds left in overtime to snatch a victory from the Patriots.
Westover had a one last chance to win with one second on the clock, but the ball was tipped out of the hands of Greg Tinch as timed expired.
The Eagles had a chance to win the game in regulation when Mitchell went for the pull-up shot, but the ball was deflected to a wide open Tyrone Hayes who put the shot up but rimmed out at the buzzer, forcing overtime.
Westover controlled the ball for much of the four-minute extra period, but only hit one of four field goals, and made one of two free throws.
"We are a young basketball team, and we made some mistakes down the stretch," Westover head coach Willie Boston said. "But, don't be surprised if you see these two teams in the state finals this year."
The Patriots were out of the gate early in the first few minutes of the game, when they scored seven unanswered points. Mitchell hit Hayes for an alley-oop slam dunk, which brought an almost capacity crowd to its feet.
Robert Wilson joined in the action by hitting a jump shot to give the Eagles the lead. Five seconds later Mitchell stole the ball, and hit Wilson for another alley-oop, bringing the crowd to their feet again, and increasing their lead to 16-11.
The trio of Mitchell, Wilson and Hayes scored all of the first quarter points for Josey, en route to a 21-15 first-quarter lead.
Both teams played strong, consistent ball over the next 16 minutes, with Josey holding onto a 42-40 lead at the end of three quarters.
Josey started feeling the pressure of being ranked No. 1 in the state toward the end of the second half.
"There was a tremendous amount of pressure going into this season," Eagles head coach Emmett Rouse said. "We knew we were ranked No. 1, which makes everyone more motivated to come out and try to beat us. We just have to step up and play better ball."
Both teams picked up the tempo, exchanging points over the next four minutes. Davis hit a three pointer to tie the game at 45-45, and then hit another one to tie the game the again at 48-48, turning the game into another nail bitter.
"Every time we play them its a nail bitter," Rouse said. "It was close toward the end and we almost gave it away with too many turnovers and missed free throws."
Josey was only 8 of 16 from the free throw line while Westover converted 15 of 26. Also, Westover forced 13 turnovers.
Missed free throws played a key role in the last minute of the game. With Josey leading 50-49, the Patriots' Tinch and Anton Savage hit only two of four free throws, to put Westover on top, 51-50 with 45 seconds left. After a dunk by Wilson, and a free throw by Hayes, giving Josey a 53-51 lead, Tinch hit a huge lay-up with 20 seconds left to tie the game at 53-53.
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