“Well, tonight’s win was a big win,” TC Central head coach Cornelious Brown said. “It moves us to the next round, which is always a part of the goal. In order to reach the goal you have to move on during this period of postseason play, so we were able to do what it took to move on to the next round.”
After trailing most of the fourth quarter the Fighting Tigers fought their way back into the game. Senior guard Cameron Duncan got things going late in the quarter as he went on a 6-0 run. His three pointer from the right corner gave TC a 40-37 lead. Kendarius Swain stole the ball a few seconds later and hit a 12-foot jumper to put TC up 42-39 with 1:26 remaining in the game.
The Wolves responded on their next possession as JT Townsend hit a three pointer to tie the game up at 42-42 with 24 seconds remaining on the clock. After a TC time out the Fighting Tigers put the ball into Duncan’s hands. His three pointer missed and Rory Jackson’s put back was no good, but Garrett’s put back at the buzzer gave TC the victory.
“Cameron has worked so hard and it’s his senior year - he wanted the basketball and I told him I would give it to him,” Brown said. “The play that I called was for him to read and react. If he had the shot he was to take it. If he didn’t have the shot it was because someone helped on him and he would have had a clean pass to kick it.
“He took the shot and I thought it was a pretty good look. It was a balanced shot on two feet and he extended well on the shot; it just didn’t go in.
“Fortunately our players wanted it a little bit more than they did on the offensive glass. We got two put backs. The first put back was missed; the second one is the one that rolled around and fell in at the buzzer. That was a great display of determination. They weren’t ready to go home.”
Fayetteville seemed like they had the Fighting Tigers on the ropes for most of the second half. The Wolves outscored TC 9-2 in the third quarter and only trailed by one point going into the fourth quarter 30-29.
TC Central’s slim lead quickly disappeared when Townsend knocked down a three pointer to give Fayetteville a 32-30 lead. Kelvin Traylor’s put back and Jeremy Melton’s three point play gave the Wolves a 37-32 advantage.
“Our guys never quit,” Fayetteville head coach Doug Warren said. “You have to tip your hat to them; they are a great ball team. They have a big impressive winning streak. They know how to win. Down the stretch they had some big defensive stops. We turned it over and they capitalized and got the lead back. JT stepped up and made a big time shot. We play for the shot and they stayed relentless on the backboard and tipped it in.”
Duncan scored 13 points to led TC Central. Rory Jackson scored 11 points.
Melton led Fayetteville with 15 points. Traylor scored 13 points while Townsend added 10.
TC Central takes on Faith Christian for the 1A Area 8 title on Monday night at 7 p.m.