Westside head coach Josh Grube admitted the final play of his teams game against Rutland did not go exactly the way he drew it up.
With his much taller team in the bonus and tied at 86 in the second overtime, Grube called a play that would put the ball in Malik Hardens hands for him to get the ball inside or drive to the basket.
Harden did make something happen, but it wasnt quite according to plan. Harden drilled a desperation 3-pointer with a defender in his face to give the Seminoles an 89-86 win in GHSA Region 2-AAAA action Friday night.
What an amazing high school basketball game, said Grube, whose team improves 7-4 in the region. Give all the credit to Malik in that situation. He was asking for the basketball to be in his hands the entire timeout, so we gave it to him. He struggled in those situations early in the year, but that was just a big-time shot by a big-time player. This is one of those games where you really hate to see either team lose.
After trailing 39-37 at the half, Rutland outscored Westside 16-4 to take a 53-43 lead with Jaylon Tyson scoring eight of his game-high 22 points during that time. But Westside quickly answered with the inside game of Tyler Wheeler to cut the Rutland lead to 59-55 at the end of three quarters.
The Seminoles continued to get inside points and finally got the lead at 67-66 on two free throws by Damion Ottman and stretched the lead to 70-66 on a basket by Ottman. Rutland fought back and took the lead at 73-72 on two Tyson free throws. But Westsides J.R. Bryant made 1-of-2 free throws with 1:26 left to tie the score, and neither team could score again in the quarter.
Rutland took a four-point lead at 81-77 in the first overtime on baskets by Jalen Kirkland and Shakenneth Williams, but Harden hit a 3 to draw Westside to within one. After Williams scored again, Harden hit another 3 with a defender hanging on him to send the game to a second overtime.
Westside grabbed an 86-83 lead on a free throw by Demontae Coney and a basket by Wheeler, who ended with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but Dallas Smith scored three straight points for Rutland on a free throw and a dunk to tie the game again. That set up Harden, who took the inbounds pass, dribbled left and let the shot go with Cortez Lattimore right in his face. It hit nothing but net as time ran out.
I wanted the ball, and I watched it from the minute it left my hand, said Harden, who ended with 18 points. The guy played great defense against me, but I was just ready to end this game. They beat us by about 20 the last time we played, so it was great to get one from them.
The girls game saw Rutland break open a close game in the second half by outscoring Westside 26-7 in the second half to take a 48-28 win. Eboni Watts led the way for the Hurricanes with 13 points, while TyAsia Grayer added 12. Daisha Terry led Westside with 11.