The site of elation after winning a region championship just a week earlier suddenly became a place of heartbreak and tears.
Despite mounting a comeback, the Josey boys basketball team lost at home to Henry County, 57-55, Saturday night in the first round of the Georgia High Schools Association Class AAA state tournament.
After winning the Region 3-AAA Tournament title and earning a No. 1 seed on its home floor last Saturday, Josey’s next game ended in disbelief.
“It’s been a great run,” Eagles coach Jabari Levi said. “We’ve come so far.”
Josey missed a desperation 3-point attempt at the buzzer. But the events only moments earlier were the toughest to swallow.
Trailing 56-55, Josey had a steal that led to a Cadeldrick White 3-point attempt. His shot was short, though Josey thought it scored on a second-chance layup. However, officials ruled White’s shot landed out of bounds.
The points the Eagles thought they had – the scoreboard actually read 57-56 before getting changed – were gone.
After the Warhawks added a free throw with 1.3 seconds to play, the Eagles’ heave missed and their season was done.
The confusing ending followed Josey’s rally from being down 50-41, a comeback that happened after Kyle Doyle and William Bentley both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
With less than five minutes to go, three different Eagles made a 3-pointer: White, Deion Craig and then Darius Williams.
Craig hit five 3-pointers in the game – three of those came in the first quarter – as he led all players with 19 points.
Williams’ late 3 was his second of the game and tied the contest at 53.
However, another Josey 3-point attempt rolled around and out and Henry County made a total of three free throws on two trips to the line.
Still not out, Josey cut the deficit to a point when White drove and made a layup as 23.3 seconds remained.
That set the stage for the wild ending.
“It was just an excellent effort by both teams,” Henry County coach Vincent Rosser said.
“All year we’ve been losing close games, and they finally finished.”