A heave for the win and a prayer was answered. Unfortunately for the Sonoraville Phoenix, it did not fall in their favor.
With seconds remaining and Sonoraville up 50-48, Lassiter’s Bryant Hunter launched a three-point shot, hoping to deliver the final blow. He would do just that, sinking the triple off the backboard and in at the buzzer to send the Trojan bench into a frenzy as the Phoenix stood stunned. The scoreboard adjusted: Lassiter 51, Sonoraville 50.
“That’s basketball, more so probably than any other sport,” Phoenix head coach Brent Mashburn said. “You’re going to have things that don’t go your way that are tough and it’s about how you respond to those things.”
Sonoraville led for majority of the non-regional contest. The Phoenix created multiple turnovers in the first half with aggressive defense.
“We’re pretty athletic I think and we try to use that to our advantage and be disruptive,” Mashburn said. “We were able to do that throughout the course of a lot of the game. Our kids do a good job of ... trying to make the other team uncomfortable.”
At the end of the first half, Sonoraville’s Loren Hiles sent the game to halftime with a buzzer-beating three. The Phoenix had outscored the Trojans 19-8 in the second quarter, taking a 28-19 advantage at the break.
“,” Mashburn said. “.”
However, the second half saw a Trojans resurgence. Sonoraville had a five-point edge after three quarters. Throughout the fourth, the teams traded leads. With 6.8 seconds to play and the Phoenix up by one, Lassiter fouled freshman Brant Bryant. Bryant knocked down the first free throw, but missed the second.
Bryant’s miss saw the Trojans corral the rebound and send the ball ahead to Hunter for the game winner.
“I told him I chose to put him in that spot and if we’re in that spot again tomorrow, I’m going to put him back in it,” Mashburn said on Bryant. “That’s the confidence I have in him even as a freshman.”
Junior Orry Darnell led the Phoenix with 19 points, 15 of those coming in the first half. Darnell took a hard fall during the fourth quarter and was in some pain immediately after. However, he would return to the court moments later.
“He’s a competitor,” Mashburn said. “He’s bruised up I think. Took a pretty hard fall, but he’s a kid that wants to be on floor and (he’s) going to figure out how to get himself back out there.”
The following evening, Sonoraville captured its seventh win of the season over Pickens County 70-58.
After closing out the decade against Excel Christian Academy on Monday, Sonoraville returns to region play on Friday, Jan. 3, when the Phoenix travel to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School to face the Warriors. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. for the Lady Phoenix, immediately followed by the boys at 8:30 p.m.
“I know I’ve got a group, every time they throw it in the air, they’re going to get after somebody,” Mashburn said. “And that makes it fun.”