Carriere—Willie Reece hit a 8 foot "tear drop" shot from inside the lane just before the buzzer sounded to give Pearl River Central a dramatic 61-59 win over Natchez at the “Snake Pit” gymnasium before a standing room only crowd.
Willie Reece scores on a tear drop in the first quarter
Reece scored seven points in the period and the Blue Devils rallied back from a 23-13 deficit to trail 29-28 at the half. In the first period, A.J. Banks netted nine points to give PRC an 11-10 lead after one period.
The Blue Devils took the lead on their first possession of the second half on a short jumper by Reece, but Natchez went on a 9-0 run, led by Izzy Holmes seven straight points, to build a 38-30 lead with 5:19 left in the period.
PRC battled back and Banks tied the game at 40-40 with a three pointer with 1:01 left in the third and he did it again with :30 left to make it 43-43 at the end of the period.
Natchez, behind Holmes and Melvyn Myles built a 51-48 lead, but Reece and Banks brought the Blue Devils back. Reece hit a three pointer with 5:50 left and Banks followed Reece with another three pointer to give PRC a 54-51 lead.
After Myles hit two free throws to make it 54-53 with just over two minutes left, Caden Thompson drained a three pointer to give the Blue Devils a 57-52 lead with just over a minute left. Myles scored again and Charles Credit made one of two free throws to make the score 57-56 with :50 left.
After a Natchez time out, Reece brought the ball up the court against the Natchez full court press, beat the press, and made a perfect pass to Josh Theaddy who made the layup off the left side of the backboard for a 59-56 lead with :39 left. After Natchez called a timeout, Holmes banked in a three pointer to tie the game with :30 left.
Click on images to enlarge
Natchez got the ball back with :20.7 left and had a chance to play for the last shot after they called a timeout, but A.J. Banks forced Natchez into a backcourt violation and PRC got the ball back with :06 left.
Reece got the ball on the inbounds pass, drove into the lane, and hit the game winner with 1.8 seconds left and the clock ran out. However, the officials thought Natchez bench called a timeout and were attempting to reset the game clock back to 1.8 seconds. As the officials huddled with the official scorekeeper, they realized Natchez did not have any timeouts, and they ruled the game over.
Head Coach Scott Stephens was elated, but emotionally drained just moments after the game. “I’m exhausted and so glad it’s over and we won. Willie did a wonderful job down there at the end.”
Stephens added, “Regardless of how we get it, we are happy to get the win. That’s a great team (Natchez) over there. They are long and they can really fill it up.”
Banks had 23 points (five 3 pointers), 10 rebounds, and 4 steals. Reece finished with 18 points (two 3 pointers) and 10 rebounds. Jason Long, Ethan Henley, and Caden Thompson each had 6 points. Henley and Thompson each hit two 3 pointers.
Holmes led Natchez with 26 points and 16 rebounds. Myles had 14 points and 6 rebounds. Charles Credit had 9 points. Natchez finishes the season at 14-11.
Pearl River Central (20-7) will play at Stone (23-5) on Saturday at 7:00pm.