If a player asks for the ball as the game winds down and his team needs a basket for the win, Josey coach Emmett Rouse is going to give him that chance.
Who knows, Rouse said? The kid just might win the game.
Against Laney on Friday, Dominique Archie asked for the ball, Rouse gave it to him and the kid won the game.
Archie sank a 16-foot jump shot with 2.4 seconds to play, and the Eagles survived a furious second-half rally from the Wildcats to pull out the 42-40 victory at Richmond Academy.
After the game, Archie didn't really have much to talk about. But to Rouse, the junior center said it all by demanding the ball with game on the line.
"(The play) wasn't designed for him to go that far out," Rouse said. "But he asked for it. So, you give it to him and hope it goes right."
The last-second shot was one of the few things that made Rouse happy.
After all, Gabriel Robinson's 12-point performance led Josey's (18-1, 7-0 Region 3-AAA) flat offense, and the Eagles were out-rebounded 20-8 in the second half.
To Rouse, it was a lack of focus.
"You have to find ways to keep them motivated," he said. "It's getting tough to do. If we win, they feel like they can just go out there and win the next one. It doesn't happen like that."
It almost didn't happen against the inexperienced Wildcats (6-13, 2-5).
Leading 31-23 with 5 minutes to play in the third quarter, Josey allowed Laney to crawl back into the game.
But after a 3-pointer by Kennie Eberhart gave Laney a 40-38 lead with 1:38 to play, Joshua Adams hit a layup with 59 seconds left, and Archie finished the job over the outstretched arm of Terrance Jackson less than a minute later.
Laney senior Marquez Gibson took a last-second shot from half-court, but he was off-balance and the ball went wide.
"We played excellent defense for most of the game," Laney coach Norman Bonner said. "Our kids played very hard, but we made some bad decisions at the end."
In the girls game, Laney opened the second half on a 21-4 run, and the Lady Wildcats had four players in double figures to take a 64-59 win.
Josey made a rousing comeback late in the fourth quarter to make the score respectable - the Lady Eagles (8-9, 3-4) were losing by as many as 25 in the second half.
Laney's Samantha Wilson scored 14 points and Joycelyn Nelson added 13 to lead the Lady Wildcats (17-2, 8-0). Josey was led by Latuya Ashley's 17-point performance.
"We're not trying to humiliate anybody," Laney coach Otis Smart said. "We're just trying to play basketball. I was pleased with our effort tonight."
Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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