A.C. Flora guard Brandon Davis was probably more surprised than anyone in the Diamond Mine on Friday night.
The Falcons senior stood at the top of the key dribbling the final seconds away in a tie game when, all of a sudden, the middle of the lane opened up. Davis charged through a couple of defenders and his layup with 0.6 seconds remaining gave top-ranked A.C. Flora a thrilling 60-58 victory over Lower Richland.
The win also clinches the Region 4-3A championship for the second straight season for the Falcons (20-2, 9-0).
“My teammates believed in me and coach called the play, and I just made a play,” Davis said. “It opened up, so all I can say is hard work pays off.”
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A.C. Flora coach Joshua Staley knew he wanted the ball in the hands of one of his guards at the end. It just so happened that Davis was the one with it.
“We wanted to clear out for one of our guards,” Staley said. “We wanted to go to Kendale (Hampton), but when I saw Brandon with it, I trusted him just as much. We ran the set for him and he came through.”
James Reese scored 21 points, Davis added 15 and Hampton chipped in with 11. The Falcons have won nine in a row.
It was a back-and-forth affair in the second half. A.C. Flora had an 11-point lead in the first half until the Diamonds chipped away behind the play of junior guards Clyde Trapp and Ja’Cor Nelson.
Lower Richland (11-12, 6-3) trailed by six at the half, but quickly took its first lead on a 3-pointer by Nelson with a little over five minutes remaining in the third quarter. From that point, there were 11 lead changes and five ties.
Davis was responsible for the final lead change when he connected on a three-pointer from the corner with 2:23 remaining to give A.C. Flora a 56-55 lead. He extended the lead to three with two free throws with just over two minutes remaining.
Trapp, who finished with a game-high 26 points, tied it for the final time at 58 with a three-pointer with 47 seconds left.
The Falcons had a turnover on their next possession before the Diamonds’ shot at the lead came up short on a jumper in the lane with 29 seconds remaining.
Staley called time out with 19 seconds to play to set the stage for the final sequence. Davis received the inbounds pass and never game it up.
Davis, who scored the final seven points, agreed with his coach the victory will help confidence.
“That’s two years in a row (winning the region), so it’s wonderful,” he said. “This builds our confidence and should help moving forward.”
LR: Clyde Trapp 26, Ja’cor Nelson 13, Higgins 6, Jones 6, Nuttry 5, Washington 2. ACF: James Reese 21, Brandon Davis 15, Kendale Hampton 11, Hollingsworth 9, Thomas 4.
Lower Richland 69, A.C. Flora 25
Dejah Williford scored 20 points as Lower Richland was able to go deep into its bench on Senior Night.
Alaysia Washington added 14 points and Kameron Roach had 10 as nine players scored for the Diamonds. Lower Richland improved to 14-9 overall and 7-2 in Region 4-3A.
Jordan Strange scored 13 points for A.C. Flora (10-13, 2-7).
ACF: Jordan Strange 13, Davis 6, Williams 2, Fleming 2, Rhue 2. LR: Dejah Williford 20, Alaysia Washington 14, Kameron Roach 10, Harrison 6, Adams 4, Nuttry 4, Hicklin 4, Archie 4, Bolton 3.