LAKELAND -- Boyd Anderson will go into the off-season haunted by its decision not to foul on a potential game-tying three-pointer at the end of regulation in its Class 7A state semifinals at the Lakeland Center on Thursday night.
Oviedo’s Qua Harper hit a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied 64-64, and the Lions carried that momentum into the extra frame outscoring the Cobras 9-1 and stunned Boyd Anderson 73-65.
Oviedo’s heart-stopping rally sent Boyd Anderson players off the court dejected, wondering how victory slipped away.
“Coach [Eugene Richardson] told us to foul but at the moment we weren’t thinking,” said Cobras forward Nick Eubanks. “He told us to foul when the player came off the screen but we didn’t do it. We weren’t able to focus with him.”
The disappointing finish brought back memories of the Cobras previous visit to the state finals in 2008 when its nationally ranked team gave up a 14-point lead and was upset by Norland for the Class 6A state title.
While the 2008 loss was a gradual meltdown this one will go down as the most painful in Boyd Anderson’s history.
On the final sequence, Oviedo inbounded the ball with 9.8 seconds left trailing 64-61. Boyd Anderson (25-6) still had two fouls to give before it would send Oviedo into the bonus but never used any of them. Ultimately, that decision cost the Cobras a shot at advancing to the State championship game on Saturday.
Boyd Anderson was able to thwart the Lions on three three-point attempts, leading to the ball falling out Oviedo’s Matt Milon’s hands. Harper tracked down the loose ball and launched the three-pointer which sent the Lions fans, players and coaches into a wild frenzy.
“The ball got knocked out, I picked it up I took a dribble pump faked and hit the three,’’ Harper said. “That kind of three-pointer, I knew it was going in. I practice it every day in the gym. It felt like no pressure at all. They think they had the game. I knew once we took it to OT, they couldn’t match our intensity.”
The Cobras wasted outstanding performances from Eubanks, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds, Dondre Duffus, who finished with 14 points and six assists, and Diandre Wilson, who had 12 points and five steals.
Boyd Anderson appeared well on its way to the finals when Roody Romaine tipped in a shot to push the lead to 56-48 with 6:43 left in regulation. But Oviedo (27-4), which upset top ranked Wekiva in both the district finals and regional semifinals to get to Lakeland, kept its season alive with a 9-2 run.
Milan keyed the spurt with a layup off a look-ahead pass from Harper and then knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner to pull the Lions to within 58-57 with 4:42 left.
Boyd Anderson’s Pitchon Pierre then made two free throws to put the Cobras ahead 64-61 with 16.1 seconds left, setting the stage for Oviedo’s miracle comeback.
Oviedo wild finish appeared to suck the air out of Boyd Anderson’s sails. Oviedo subsequently outscored the Cobras 9-1 in overtime, highlighted by Carlos Maffuz hitting a three-pointer following a Simeon turnover and Graham finding RJ June (16 points) for a two-handed dunk and 73-64 lead with 1:02 left in overtime.
Class 7A State semifinal: Oviedo 73, Boyd Anderson 65 (OT): BA (25-6): Simeon 10, Eubanks 20, Wilson 12, Duffus 14, P. Pierre 5, Romaine 2, Pierre 2. Oviedo (27-4): Milon 18, Maffuz 13, Graham 10, Harper 10,June 18, Alvarez 4. Half: Oviedo 36-32. Three-pointers: Simeon 2, Duffus 3, Milon 2, Maffuz 3, Harper 2. Rebounds: Eubanks 12, Milon 10. Steals: Wilson 5. Assists: Duffus 6.