James Reese knew it was time to take charge. Being a four-year veteran that has played in three consecutive state championship games, Reese didn’t want to see his senior season end on A.C. Flora’s home floor.
Reese did his part with 38 points and six steals as the Falcons survived a spirited effort from Crestwood for a 93-91 overtime victory in the second round of the Class 4A boys basketball playoffs.
The outcome wasn’t determined until Crestwood’s Ja Morant’s 3-pointer went in and out at the buzzer.
“Being a senior, and a four-year varsity player, I think my role is to lead the team no matter what,” Reese said. “I tried to do that again tonight and it just happened I ended up scoring a bunch. We just had to make sure at the end that they didn’t get any more big plays.”
A.C. Flora will host Wilson, a 73-54 winner over Hartsville, in the third round on Tuesday night.
“I thought we had good spurts, but then we were really bad and undisciplined and not taking advantage of the opportunities that we had,” A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley said.
The Falcons could have won in regulation, but missed two free throws and turned it over in the final seconds to allow Deonta Lambert to hit a rainbow, desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
Reese then made the plays that eventually sealed it for the Falcons. A.C. Flora jumped to a 10-point lead in overtime, only to see Crestwood score nine points in 37 seconds to make it a 90-89 Falcons lead with 51 seconds left.
The teams traded turnovers before Reese scored to make it 92-89. Another Crestwood turnover resulted in one Reese free throw. Crestwood missed two free throws with 15 seconds remaining, the Falcons rebounded but called a time out they didn’t have and were charged a technical foul.
Morant made the two free throws with five seconds left then, after a time out, his final shot just missed going in.
“If we plan on surviving in this tournament, we have to do a much better job of executing down the stretch,” Staley said.
Morant, an All-State selection and Murray State signee, finished with 35 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in his final high school game. Trevion Webber added 28 points for the Knights. Webber hit seven 3-pointers in the second half and overtime to rally Crestwood.
Christian Brown contributed 21 points and nine rebounds and Deshawn Thomas added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Falcons.
“Luckily, we didn’t panic,” Staley said. “We’ve seen everything over the last three years. We just have to stick to our guns and we made one extra play than they did tonight.”
C: Ja Morant 35, Trevion Webber 28, Dakota Jennings 13, J. Bradley 5, Benjamin 4, Lambert 3, Walton 2, A, Bradley 1. ACF: James Reese 36, Christian Brown 21, Deshawn Thomas 17, D. Brown 7, Hollingsworth 4, Jamison 4, Foulks 2, Boyce 2.