In the span of 3.1 seconds, Peach County turned potential disappointment into the biggest highlight of its season.
Peach County went the length of the court in that amount of time, with Brice Paster nailing a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Trojans a 61-58 victory over Rutland in the first round of the GHSA Region 4-3A Tournament on Tuesday at Rutland.
The win puts Peach County (7-18) in the GHSA Class 3A Tournament, with Rutland finishing its season with a 10-12 mark.
“That’s the thing we talked about all year,” said first-year Peach County head coach Prelvis Paster, who is Brice’s father. “It’s rough, coming in and taking the program, kids not having belief in what we were doing, belief in themselves. We had to work our butts off to get to where we are.
“The thing I talked to them about is the postseason. We just keep working to get better, and you get to this game right here, basically it’s 0-0. It doesn’t matter what your record is. They bought into it, and fortunately for us we had some things go our way.”
The game-winning shot capped a wild final stretch in which both teams missed go-ahead opportunities.
With the game tied at 58, Peach County missed a close basket with less than 10 seconds remaining following a steal. Rutland then went the length of the court, with Deshon James driving the lane and making an apparent basket with 3.1 seconds to go. But Paster, a junior guard, achieved defensive position underneath the basket first, drawing a charge and wiping out the basket.
Paster, who fought foul trouble much of the game and picked up his fourth foul with 6:35 to go, finished with 17 points. Jared Johnson led the Trojans with 25 points.
“My dad, as we got in there, I was able to calm myself down,” Brice Paster said of the timeout his father called after the charge call. “I was able to get my thoughts straight and focus on that we had three seconds left and listen to what his plan was and believe in it. That was it. We just executed.”
James led Rutland with 15 points, with Courtney Greene adding 13 and Lamontis Moore 11.
Peach County rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit, wiping it out by the end of the third quarter.
The Trojans face the winner of Tuesday’s late game between Central and Pike County at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at Central.
In the opener, Kendrick held off Jackson’s fourth-quarter comeback effort for a 70-66 victory. The Cherokees, paced by Tyler Brooks’ 22 points, face Westside at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, also at Central.
CENTRAL 92, PIKE COUNTY 46
Antarius McCoy scored 17 points in the first quarter, Central led 33-12 after eight minutes, and the Chargers ran away with their first-round matchup.
Eleven Central players scored, with McCoy finishing with 23. Dewan Owens added 14 points for the Chargers (18-6).
Acton Shirley scored 24 points for Pike County (4-22).