BRISTOL, Tenn. — There is absolutely no doubt that Dobyns-Bennett’s A.J. Anderson sank both his free throws with no time remaining on the clock to lift the Indians to a 55-54 Arby’s Classic win over Berkmar, Ga., on Saturday.
What strained credulity for Patriots coach Greg Phillips was that Anderson even had the opportunity to do so.
“I saw his (final) shot go up. I heard the buzzer. I thought it was over. We were lining up to shake hands thinking it was over,” Phillips said.
“According to High School Federation rules, if you call a foul the last second, there has to be time on the clock. There should have been 1.1 or 1.2 seconds left,” he said.
That was troubled water under the bridge for D-B’s Anderson, who admitted he would have been pretty steamed had he been in Berkmar’s place.
But when Anderson toed the charity stripe, the legitimacy of the hack called against the Patriots’ Bradley Holmes wasn’t weighing very heavily on his mind.
“We practice free throws for about 20 minutes before and after practice every day for those certain situations,” said Anderson, who led the Indians with 19 points. “I was just trying to clear my mind the whole time I was up there. Just taking a deep breath and seeing the process through.”
D-B (9-3) found itself in a matchup bind after losing 6-foot-7 Connor Mitchell to his fifth foul with the game tied at 47 and 2:15 remaining in the game.
That left Berkmar big man Tim Rowe without a peer in the post during the final stretch.
Despite carrying four fouls, the 6-11 junior scored four of his team-leading 14 points in the final two minutes, including a reverse layup for the 54-53 lead with 2.8 seconds remaining on the clock.
Rowe had only one block, but his wingspan created havoc for the Indians’ passing lanes. With 28.2 seconds remaining, he tipped a Devin Stuart inbounds pass attempt into the hands of teammate Jonathan Sanks, who finished the backcourt layup to close within one point of the Indians.
Rowe’s long arms were a factor in the four consecutive aborted inbounds attempts by the Tribe that followed Sanks’ bucket. Two resulted in timeouts and two were swatted out of bounds by Sanks.
The fifth attempt — a full-court end-line heave by Anderson — was ultimately picked off by James Sanders for the possession ending in Rowe’s go-ahead basket.
John Fulkerson, who had 12 points and six rebounds for the Indians, made the successful Hail Mary inbounds throw to Anderson for the final, fateful D-B possession.
“One of our players, I think it was (Makale Foreman), he said, ‘Let’s let John throw it in! He’s a good passer.’ Not that Devin Stuart isn’t. But he was in a tough situation,” said Indians coach Charlie Morgan, whose team advanced to face Oak Ridge in Monday’s 2:30 p.m. fifth-place game.
Foreman scored 11 points for D-B, also handing out four assists. Stuart had five assists.
Malcolm Hannah chipped in 10 points for Berkmar (7-6), which won the first, second and third quarters but still never led by more than six points.
“We did not do a good job in the third and fourth quarter of being ahead and holding a lead to where (a call) is not a factor,” Phillips said.
“Give it to them. They got the ball inbounds. They didn’t panic. They pushed it up. That’s what you do in the last second. Try to get a shot off and hope for something good to happen.”