The McKenzie Tigers claimed their first area title since 1996 in Pleasant Home on Monday night, and the game against the Eagles literally came down to the last second.
Pleasant Home led 40-39 with under five seconds to play, but McKenzie had a chance to inbound the ball under the goal.
The first attempt was knocked out of bounds, so the Tigers got one more shot.
On the second inbound play, Calvin Henderson threw the ball to Emmanuel Johnson, who passed it back to Henderson.
Henderson’s last-second jumper rimmed out, but a foul was called on the play.
With virtually no time left on the clock, Henderson cold-bloodedly hit two free throws to give the Tigers a one-point lead and the win.
“It was one of the wildest things I’ve seen,” said head coach Miles Brown.
The Tigers trailed by eight points at halftime and by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“We trailed pretty much the entire game,” Brown said. “We didn’t get the lead until we hit those free throws.”
Johnson was the top scorer for the Tigers in that game with 19 points and Henderson added eight.
To get to the championship, McKenzie defeated Kinston 52-49.
Melvin Owens had 13 points in that game and both Henderson and Antonio Lett added 10 points.
Now the Tigers will face off against Providence Christian in the sub-regional game.
“The kids are excited about it, especially since it’s the first one in 13 years,” Brown said. “We’re going to try to see if we can advance another round. Providence is disciplined and very fundamentally sound. They’ve also got a very good post player and a good guard.”
That game is set for 6 p.m. Friday night in McKenzie.