The final 69 seconds of Thursday night's District 6-2A prep game came down to a version of helter-skelter basketball between Red Bank and Tyner on the Rams’ home court.
Tyner capped a 60-58 barn-burner with a closing sequence that Hollywood script writers would be hard-pressed to do justice.
“Coming in this was a must-win game for us,” said Tyner’s Shannon Sprawls, who came up with perhaps the biggest play in a game laden with sterling plays when he blocked Red Bank’s final field-goal attempt with time running out.
“We have two losses and Brainerd has two losses,” Sprawls added.
We see Brainerd and Central before the season ends. It’s up to us to get two wins in those games.”
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Lions (13-9, 4-6), who had a 58-54 lead with 1:25 left following Kolbi Suttles’ two free throws. Down the stretch, however, Suttles went cold from the line.
“This was very disappointing,” Red Bank’s senior point guard Malik McConnell said. “I haven’t beaten Tyner since I’ve been in high school. It came down to that last 2-minute stretch and we missed four free throws. We make ‘em and we win.”
Tyner plays Hixson and non-district foe Walker Valley, a title contender in District 5-3A, before facing Brainerd (13-4, 5-2), Central (15-1, 10-0) and East Ridge to close out the regular season. Central ripped Howard, 82-58, Thursday.
“All we’re thinking about is finishing strong,” said the Rams’ Jerrion Christopher, who ignited an 11-0 third-quarter run with two 3s and a driving scoop. “Our confidence is going to go up for sure because we played a tough team tonight.”
Junior Kevin Cameron, who scored 15 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, felt Tyner’s experienced upperclassmen provided the difference in the game.
“That helped us a lot,” he said. “The younger guys have been listening and learning from us, especially the seniors, and it showed tonight. Jerrion was knocking down shots and I wanted to keep getting the ball to him.”
Suttles, fouled by Cameron, extended the Lions’ lead to 58-54 by hitting two free throws.
The hectic final seconds were dominated by fast-and-furious action on the court.
Tyner’s Kenny Bulloch missed a 3, but senior Cameron was there to grab the ball and put back at layup with 1:09 remaining.
Suttles, fouled by Christopher, missed two free throws.
Cameron made 1-of-2 from the charity line. On his second-chance miss, Tyner got the rebound, but missed three times from point-blank range.
Again, Suttles was fouled, this time by Jermy Elston, with 23.1 seconds on the clock.
Suttles again missed both tries, but teammate Will Davis got the rebound only to miss the putback.
Tyner, which twice led by 11 points in the second quarter, grabbed the rebound and coach Keitha Booker called timeout.
With 10.2 seconds showing, Cameron strolled to the free-throw line.
He made the first, tying the game 58-58. After missing the second attempt, the aggressive Cameron charged the rim and tipped the carom to Christopher, who was immediately fouled by Caleb Tate.
Christopher, who drained three of the Rams’ five 3-pointers, calmly sank both free throws and the Rams went out front 60-58.
At the other end, Red Bank’s Torrey Sewell got off a 3-pointer in total chaos in front of the Lions’ bench, but Sprawls – he helped Tyner reach the Class 2A state football playoffs – came up with a monumental block and time ran out.
“My guys are warriors,” Lions coach Nick Fike said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and they executed them and battled their butts off. The ball just didn’t bounce our way a few times, but these guys played their hearts out.
“This shed light on a few things, one being that we know what we’re capable of doing. These players have really grown over the past two years; it’s just a shame we lost this game.”
McConnell led the Lions with 19 points, including going 8-for-8 from the free-throw stripe. For the game, Red Bank was 19-for-24 at the line.
Suttles added 17 points, 14 coming in the second half, and Davis finished with 11 for the Lions.
The Rams hit 13-of-16 free throws, with Cameron perfect 9-for-9.
“Tonight will help prepare us for the final stretch of the season,” Cameron said. “We know how to play hard for 32 minutes.”
Tyner girls 58, Red Bank 52: Kaysha Rodgers scored 16 points, eight in each half, as the Lady Rams improved to 8-9 overall and 7-1 in the district by winning their third straight game.
The Rams are atop the league standings, followed by Central (10-7, 8-2) and Red Bank (13-6, 7-3). Hixson (6-12, 6-4) round out the top four.
The game was tied 20-20 at halftime, but the Lady Rams had a 22-point third quarter to grab a 42-35 advantage.
Midway through the final period, LeAundra Melton drained a 3 from the right wing to give Tyner at 40-47 lead.
Red Bank’s KiKi Evers made the front end of a 1-and-1, but missed the second. The Lady Lions got the rebound and Layla Babb hit a short bank shot to tie the contest.
Melton answered with her second 3 in a 26-second span and Tyner was up, 53-50, with 2:27 left.
MaQuiesha Conyers hit two free throws to push the lead to five points, but Red Bank’s Danielle Usher countered with a field goal. Melton made the second of two free throws, Conyers hit one and Jai’mesia Parks added one to provide the final six-point spread.
Kenich Watkins scored 14 points and Conyers added 11 for the Lady Rams.
The Lady Lions, who scored two points over the final 2 minutes, 36 seconds, had three players score 14 points – Romans, Usher and Mya Kennebrew.
Red Bank 11 13 22 11 – 58
Tyner 12 21 15 12 – 60
Red Bank (58) – Kolbi Suttles 17, Will Davis 11, Malik McConnell 19, Autry 7, Shelby, Thomas, Sewell 4.
Tyner (60) – Je. Elston 4, Burrage, Kevin Cameron 22, Bowens 3, Ja. Elston, Jerrion Christopher 15, Little, Sprawls 3, Boyd 7, Bulloch 6.
3-Point Goals – Red Bank 3 (Suttles 2, McConnell 1), Tyner 5 (Christopher 3, Cameron 1, Boyd 1).
Red Bank 10 10 15 16 – 52
Tyner 15 5 22 16 – 58
Red Bank (52) – Babb 6, Shelby Romans 14, Pratt, Roberts, Claiborne, Evers 4, Danielle Usher 14, Mya Kennebrew 14.
Tyner (58) – Bedford, Parks 5, MaQuiesha Conyers 11, Melton 7, Moffett 7, McCutcheon, Kenich Watkins 14, Taylor, Kaysha Rodgers 16.
3-Point Goals – Red Bank none, Tyner 4 (Melton 2, Watkins 2).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)