A CTC championship slipped out of the hands of the WCMS Pioneers Friday night. Quite literally.
Warren County fell to Tullahoma West 30-28 at Charlie Dalton Gym, with a chance of a potential game-tying shot lost when the ball squeezed through Jonathan Lara’s fingers under the rim with 1.1 seconds to play.
The Pioneers had their chances earlier, including when the game was tied with under 30 seconds to play and Isaiah Cummings – the team’s leading scorer this season – popping open under the rim. Cummings missed the mark on the layup though, allowing Tullahoma West to take possession.
Following a timeout, the Bobcats took their time as they hunted for a final shot. Deandre Jenkins finally took off as the clock went under 10 seconds, finding a wall of Pioneers waiting in the paint. Jenkins tried to get up a shot, but he was hit before he could gather.
The whistle blew with 8.3 seconds left, sending Jenkins to the line for a 1-and-1 situation. Even with the crowd getting up to a deafening level, the Bobcat guard was able to sink both shots to give his team the lead.
Warren County had one last shot, but a mad scramble seemed to doom the play from the start. From near halfcourt, Dyson Elam threw an inbounds pass on the side in the area of Treyton Terry, but the Pioneer guard wasn’t looking.
The ball sailed over his head and bounced off the legs of a Tullahoma defender, sending almost every player to the court in hopes of securing possession. Lara was able to emerge from the pack with four seconds left, getting a crack of daylight toward the rim.
He cruised in, but with two defenders converging the ball was knocked loose and the baseline referee ruled it touched the Pioneers last. Coach Kevin Burnett and the Pioneers all believed Lara was hit, but no foul call was made.
Tullahoma West threw a deep pass that was tipped and let the final second expire before the Bobcats celebrated their CTC tournament title.
Cummings finished with nine points to lead the Pioneers, including a thrilling sequence in the fourth quarter that tied the game. Cumming had a monster block on one end, coming from the weak side to reject a shot at the rim.
Lara corralled the loose ball and pushed up court, ultimately dishing off at the last second to Cummings for a layup that knotted the score.
Alex van Vuuren also had a clutch basket in the waning seconds, hitting a contested 12-footer in the final minute to lock the score at 28. The Pioneer forward finished with six points.
Terry added seven points in the championship.
After the game, Terry, Cumming and van Vuuren were each named to the all-CTC conference team.
Elam, Lara and Camron Perry finished with two points apiece in the championship game.
The Pioneers earned their way into the championship by beating Coffee County 35-32 in overtime Thursday. Cumming led the way with 11 points in the semifinals, followed by Terry and van Vuuren with nine points each. Terry helped ice the game with a three-point play in overtime, while Perry, who scored four points, had a bucket in extra time.
Baylor Melton and Elam each had one point in the semifinals.