Warriors give 'Best' effort in final minute
By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on February 2, 2011 1:47 PM
When Southern Wayne forward Khari Faison threw down a two-handed, alley-oop slam with 70 seconds left on the clock, everyone in the gym at Eastern Wayne assumed the game was over.
Except Lamar Best.
The upstart Eastern Wayne point guard scored eight points in the final minute and propelled the Warriors to their second upset of the Saints, 58-55, this season.
With his team trailing 53-46 following the Faison slam, Best found Javon Darden, who sank a contested fall-away bank shot. Best then executed a perfectly-timed reach and stole the ball from Saints points guard Trey Allen.
Best drew a foul on the layup, hit the free throw and the Warriors trailed 53-51.
"I had been watching him the whole second half so I had a good feel for what (Allen) was trying to do with the ball," said Best. "I just made a move and the ball came loose. I knew I had to convert on the other end to make it count."
After the Saints failed to score on their next possession, Best drove through the lane and drew a foul with 40 seconds to play. The pair of free throws tied the game.
A second consecutive missed opportunity for an open basket on the Southern Wayne end led to a pair of free throws by Lee Atkinson, which gave the Warriors the lead for good. Best sealed the game by creating another turnover and another 3-point play with 19 seconds left on the clock.
"Lamar came up huge for us tonight, he played like a senior," said Eastern Wayne head coach Marvin Bowman. "I have to give a lot of credit for my guys for going in and battling even though we had a big size disadvantage."
Best paced the Warriors with 18 points and five steals. Robert Washington added 14 points and Lee Atkinson finished with 12 points in the win.
Tony Smith led the way for Southern Wayne with 15 points. Bernard Gross finished with 13 points before fouling out. Khari Faison contributed 12 points and 12 rebounds.
"You hate to have a minute like that at the end of the game," said Southern Wayne head coach Russell Stephens. "I tell my guys on the road you have to play tough and capitalize on opportunities. Tonight we did not do that down the stretch."
Southern Wayne (15-4 overall, 7-2 ECC) plays host to South Johnston on Friday night. Eastern Wayne (11-6, 6-2) entertains North Lenoir in a pivotal Eastern Carolina 3-A Conference matchup tonight.