It appeared Sylva-Bay Academy's River Thomas had landed a layup in heavy traffic as the final buzzer sounded, or had at least had been fouled a second earlier. But, the officials did not call it that way.
The Saints took 2A Newton High School to the wire in overtime Saturday morning during the Alfa Classic Tournament at Bay Springs High School, but fell just short, 72-71, to the Tigers.
Sylva-Bay head coach R.E. Lopez argued the call and was near livid following the game.
“The boys played good and hard today,” he said. “That was just poor officiating, and that's all I've got to say.”
Sylva-Bay trailed Newton by 12 points at the half, but made a run on Thomas' back in the third and fourth periods. His play driving in the paint and at the free throw line during the second half, along with Brenton Jones, Robert Milsap, and Brice Johnson's contributions throughout the game, helped keep the Saints within reach and whittled the Tigers' lead to 55-44 going into the fourth period.
Thomas remained on pace in the fourth period and hit three free throws and two layups that edged into Newton's cushion, 55-52, with 4:53 left in regulation. Johnson netted a layup following an offensive rebound to cut the deficit to 55-54, and he later gave Sylva-Bay its first lead of the second half, 61-60, with 1:20 left in the fourth. The Saints led 64-62 with 11.5 seconds remaining in regulation, but were called for a 5 second violation on an inbound pass. Newton's Kedrick Osby hit the front end of a 1-and 1-trip to the charity stripe with 4.5 seconds left in regulation to trim Sylva-Bay's advantage to one. Osby finished off regulation with a second on the clock hitting a one free throw to tie the game, 64-64.
Newton earned an early 67-64 advantage during the first minute of overtime, but the Saints remained in check. Sylva-Bay's Milsap dropped two shots from the free throw line to pull the Saints within one, 67-66, with 2:41 left in overtime. Thomas later floated a layup to give Sylva-Bay a 68-67 lead, but Osby kept the Tigers in the game with a layup. The Saints tied the game 69-69 on a free throw with 1:31 left in overtime. Osby later stole a Saints' pass and converted a layup to hand Newton a 71-69 lead, but Sylva-Bay's Milsap drained a layup to knot the contest 71-71 with 30 seconds left in the contest. Newton's Rayvion Nettles hit a free throw with 19.6 seconds remaining in the overtime period to give the Tigers a 72-71 lead, and Kezarrian Wash had an opportunity to put the game away at the free throw line for the Tiger with only seconds left on the clock. Wash missed both free throws, and Sylva-Bay's Thomas grabbed the rebound and went coast-to-coast for what appeared to be the winning layup or foul as the buzzer sounded. The shot was waved off and no foul was called.
Thomas finished the game with 28 points for Sylva-Bay. Jones scored 16 points, and Johnson and Milsap both scored 10. Campbell Graves added 6 points for the Saints.
Osby led Newton with 15 points.