In Saturday night’s tournament title game, Eastside overcame a 10-point deficit to pick up a 63-60 victory over the Blue Devils.
Leading by three with two seconds remaining, Eastside (15-7) attempted to inbound the ball and run out the clock. When Spartans guard Erikk Banks was unable to bring the pass under control, the ball quickly rolled out of bounds as time expired.
Game officials quickly determined the clock had expired, raising the ire of the Blue Devil faithful.
“We were trying to get a play going away from their basket,” said Eastside coach Patrick Damron.
“Erikk touched it and once the player does that, the clock starts. There was obviously no time on the clock. Honestly, I don’t know how much time you would have even put back on the clock,” he said.
Castlewood coach Doug Campbell pointed out that his team let a double-digit lead slip away.
“Honestly, we should have never been in that situation at the end,” he said.
Trailing 40-30 midway through the third frame, the Spartans went on a 9-0 run to cut the Castlewood lead to one with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.
Banks and senior Forrest Lunsford combined for 13 points over the game’s final moments to give the Spartans the tournament championship.
“We just had way too many loose balls and we played lethargically at times,” Campbell said. “When we got to a 10-point lead, I think we got complacent.
“Give Eastside credit. They played hard.”
Blue Devils senior Reid Edmonds led the team with 24 points and was 4-for-6 from the charity stripe.
Castlewood (16-6) and Eastside are expected to learn their opponents for this week’s regional tournament today.
In the girls’ championship game, Castlewood (18-5) earned a 63-51 victory over rival Eastside (14-8) to secure the tournament title.
Eastside jumped to an 8-0 lead, forcing Lady Blue Devils coach Barry Ruff to call a timeout.
“When Castlewood called time, they came back playing very physical basketball. After that, we didn’t play very physical basketball,” Lady Spartans coach Jeff Adkins said.
Trailing 51-36 at the end of the third quarter, Eastside began committing fouls to stop the clock.
Realizing that free throws would likely be a determining factor, Ruff said his players spent the last few days working on free throw shooting.
“We shot over 150 free throws because we knew it may come down that situation in the title game. Tonight, we were able to convert about 60 percent,” he said.
Eastside and Castlewood combined for 56 team fouls.
“It was a very physical game,” Adkins said. “Whenever these two teams play each other, that seems to be the way it goes.”
Adkins said the number of fouls in the contest prevented his team from finding any type of rhythm.
“When you have that many fouls, your players get frustrated, but if you stay out of situations where you put the other team at the foul line, you’re going to have a chance to win the ballgame,” he said.
Following the victory, Ruff credited the Lady Blue Devils’ success to a strong starting lineup and a deep bench.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time now. Over the last 10 years, I’ve coached a lot of great players, but this is, without a doubt, the best team I’ve ever worked with,” he said.