Tylik Evans tucked his head in his jersey, disgusted with himself.
Rutlands sophomore point guard committed a foul following a turnover and sent Westside to the free-throw line in a tie game with 12 seconds left Friday and the GHSA Region 2-AAAA championship on the line in a raucous Westside gym.
I thought I lost the game for us, Evans said. I thought it was over.
Rutland head coach Ron Christian put his arm around his young guard and said, Its going to come down to you.
Christian was correct.
After Damion Ottman made the second free throw to give Westside a one-point lead, Jalen Kirkland drove down court, drew the defense and found Evans, who buried a 3-point dagger in Westsides sternum with five seconds left to give Rutland a 54-52 win and the first region championship in program history.
This means a lot, Christian said. Weve watched some of the other teams in the county win these. Its nice to win one. Weve come close before, but I think this is our most talented team top to bottom weve had here.
The Hurricanes, who lost both regular-season matchups with Westside, looked poised to roll to the win. Like it did in its semifinals win over Baldwin, Westside struggled offensively and found itself behind by double digits in the second half.
The Seminoles trailed by eight in the fourth quarter before rallying to pull within one on a basket by Demontae Coney with three minutes to play.
Westside was still down one when Ottman went to the foul line with 30 seconds left. He made 1-of-2 free throws to tie the game, and Rutland gave him a chance to put Westside in front following their third consecutive turnover.
Ottman made the second free throw this time, setting the stage for Evans game winner.
We closed on (Kirkland), and he kicked it to (Evans) and the kid just drilled the shot, Westside head coach Josh Grube said. He had an open look and just buried it.
After Evans 3-pointer, Westside raced the ball back the other way, getting a decent look from just outside the paint, but the hard shot bounced off the glass. The Rutland bench exploded on to the court after the buzzer, along with a hundred or so of their supporters.