Meigs County's boys led most of Wednesday's game against Arts & Sciences in the 12th Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament at Chattanooga State. But the Tigers didn't lead for good until Brantley Baker came through with his only points with two to seconds to play.
In a helter-skelter situation, Baker ended up with the ball in the right corner of a tie game. The sophomore calmly squared himself to the basket and dropped in a jumper that proved to be the game-winner, lifting Meigs to a 57-55 victory.
Meigs (9-1) will play McCallie in a semifinal at 8:30 tonight. CSAS (5-3) plays Central in a consolation-bracket game at 2:30 p.m. today.
After the Patriots tied on Jameel Dodds' field goal underneath with 10 seconds remaining, Meigs coach Sammy Perkinson said he stood up to call timeout as action began heading down the court toward him. But he refrained.
"I backed off when I saw Cam Harris with the ball, clear of all the defense," Perkinson said. "I knew then we'd get a great look, probably a better look than if I called timeout to set a play. I just wish there had been another second go off the clock before it went in."
CSAS called a timeout with 1.3 seconds to play, then inbounded to halfcourt and called another timeout with one second left. Dodds attempted the Patriots' final shot — a 3-pointer from right of the key — but with Wriley Smith all over him defensively, his double-pump attempt fell short.
"Lack of effort," CSAS coach Mark Dragoo said in summation. "We didn't play hard for 32 minutes, and that's what you get."
Perkinson said the game marked the first time all season his team played a zone defense.
"There were two reasons," he said. "Number one was their quickness. Number two, we have to play back-to-back-to-back nights. Hopefully it saved our legs a little bit."
CSAS battled back from a 40-29 deficit late in the third quarter and tied the game three times in the fourth — the first at 42.
"We put ourselves in that hole," Dragoo said. "It wasn't what they did. Our offensive decision-making and our defensive lapses put us in the position we were. We could've fought back and been up six or seven if it hadn't been for our bad decisions."
Clint Oliver led Meigs with 19 points, and Harris added 14.
Darius Graves scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half for the Patriots. Cahlib Edwards had 10 in the first quarter and finished with 12. Dodds totaled 11.
The Tigers' Zy Moore came down awkwardly on his right ankle in the second quarter. Not only did he not return, he was on crutches after the game. Perkinson said he will be taken for X-rays today.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.