Jefferson falls on 3-pointer at buzzer

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

FAYETTE &045; Playing Jefferson County a third time this season just turned Albert McKnight’s stomach.

And the more free throws his Amite County team missed in the second half, the more he was ready to just sit down and throw his hands up. Even an ugly, almost off-balance shot from LaKendrick Franklin was enough to make those with the strongest of stomachs grimace, but wouldn’t you know it &045; the sucker went in.

It gave Amite County at 53-52 win over Jefferson in the first round of the Division 7-3A playoffs at the JC gym.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;That was probably the ugliest I’ve seen, but it was probably one of the best ones I’ve seen,&uot; McKnight said. &uot;That went in with the help of God there. He really came through when we needed it the most. I knew this was going to be a tough game. Any time you beat a team twice in the regular season and play them on their home floor, it’s going to be tough. And Jefferson County has a good, young ball club.&uot;

Franklin hit the shot from the corner with just one second left and the Tigers holding a 52-50 lead. It put smiles on the faces of everyone associated with Amite County basketball after the Trojans were staring at a first-round upset square in the face thanks in part to 13 misses from the free-throw line.

Both teams traded turnovers in the final minute, but the Tigers went ahead by two when Joseph Kemp took a long pass from the other end of the floor and knocked down an uncontested layup.

Franklin then brought the ball down the floor, dribbled to the corner, fell off balance a bit and knocked down the 3-pointer. Officials met at halfcourt to determine whether or not Franklin was behind the arc, and one official emerged with both hands raised.

&uot;I wanted the foul, but it went in,&uot; said Franklin, who finished with a game-high 18 points. &uot;I was trying to bump into him and get the call but made the shot. We just kept our heads in the game. Free throws kept us out, but we fought back. We beat them twice, and we knew the third one wasn’t going to be easy.&uot;

The shot was the final blow to a Jefferson County team that kept fighting despite setbacks of its own in the final minute. Both teams were called for an offensive foul in an 11-second span with just over a minute to go, and the Tigers turned it over trailing by one with 44 seconds left.

But the Trojans turned it over right back eight seconds later, and Anthony Chambliss hit one of two free throws with 33 seconds left to tie the game at 50.

&uot;We played (Franklin’s shot) well,&uot; Jefferson County head coach Marcus Walton said. &uot;Turnovers in the last minute and 30 seconds put us in that situation. It never should have come down to that situation. Just crucial turnovers. I didn’t even look. I had a doubt it would fall &045; a line-drive 3-pointer.

&uot;The game plan was to keep it in front of us, don’t foul, get a hand up on the shooter and get the rebound. That was the game plan.&uot;

The Tigers had to fight back after Amite opened the second half hot to overcome a five-point deficit at the break. The Tigers led 37-36 heading into the fourth quarter before Amite got hot and took a 44-41 lead on a bucket from Rick Williams at the 5:41 mark.

The Tigers struggled in the fourth quarter at times on the offensive end but found a way to stay in it. Kenneth Lowe &045; who led the Tigers with 13 points &045; hit a bucket with 3:11 left before Kemp nailed two free throws to give the Tigers a 45-44 lead at the 2:49 mark.

They went up 49-46 on a bucket from Eddie Davenport with 1:55 left but got only the Kemp layup late as the only field goal from there on out.

&uot;We really didn’t execute the way we should have,&uot; Walton said. &uot;Our press offense that we had worked on and hadn’t had any problems &045; for some reason tonight we got in a hurry and those turnovers came back to cost us.&uot;