Cavalier come back downs Bob Jones
Special for the Record
The Bob Jones Patriots, less than a minute away from a state title down in the Magic City on Saturday, failed to add the finishing touches to their lead and dropped the final game 76-71 against the top- seated, undefeated John Carroll Cavaliers.
Don't let the final score fool you though. The five-point lead is the largest John Carroll enjoyed all evening, only grabbing the lead once in the entire game, which was in the fourth quarter. They didn't look back from there.
Seventh-ranked Bob Jones played a perfect game until the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, where John Carroll began a ferocious come back. The Patriots held a steady lead of around 10 points the entire game, leading by as many as 12 at the end of the third.
Fernandez Lockett led Bob Jones (30-6) with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Jordan Howell had 18 points and seven assists. Marshall Toney added 17 points and Trey Butler had 10.
The game was in the bag. The Patriots worst enemy was themselves. Whether it was a speech during the break between the third and fourth periods, or a huge three-point shot early in the fourth, something happened that woke John Carroll up.
It may have even been a hard foul to Bob Jones. Whatever it was, it got the Cavaliers back into the game. For the first time during the entire game, they started playing like they hadn't been defeated in 30-plus games, making the defensive stops, getting the foul shots, making key jumpers here and there.
What resulted was a surge in adrenaline that left the game tied 68-68 at the end of regulation.
As the game headed into overtime, there was a strong feeling of intensity in the air. It could have been cut with a butter knife. Sweat pouring out of every person in the building. Not one of the enthralled 12,250 fans in the Birmingham/Jefferson Civic Center was sitting when the two teams made their way back into the ring, ready to go nose to nose and finish this heavyweight bout.
Key turnovers and free throws would lead the game back and forth in the final minutes. Bob Jones held a three-point lead with under a minute to play. The Patriots got it back, missed the first of a one and one, and John Carroll took it down for two points. With the Patriots leading 71-70, John Carroll took the ball down for a two-point shot, and got two more free throws to get a 74-71 lead with about 10 seconds left.
Howell, the Patriots' answer to every challenge this year, dribbled the ball up court, seemed to have tripped splitting two defenders, and sent the ball rolling across the floor.
DeMarre' Carroll scored 13 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Cavaliers. Carroll added 14 rebounds and Ronald Steele had 25 points and 13 boards.
All that was left in the game was a monstrous dunk by Carroll as time expired to seal the deal, giving the Cavaliers a thrilling 76-71 triumph.