One of the special parts of tournament time is the emergence of the most unlikely players who suddenly turn into heroes.
Such is the case with Antioch High senior guard Antwan Brooks whose 10-foot jump shot with two seconds left gave host Antioch a 63-61 win over McGavock late Saturday night in the last of four District 12-AAA semifinal games.
The basket accounted for all of Brooks’ points in the game. It also gave the Bears (15-14) a spot in Tuesday’s tournament championship game on their own floor against Hunters Lane, the regular-season district winner.
“In fact, it’s the first points he’s scored in about three weeks,” veteran Antioch coach Jim Nollner said. “He doesn’t shoot that much.
“He’s a great kid. Lately, his confidence in his shooting has gone down. I’ve been staying after him, telling him that he’s a good shooter and to keep his head up.”
Even after Brooks’ shot, the game was far from over.
McGavock quickly took a timeout and two seconds remained. Antioch point guard Derek Durham intercepted a pass at mid-court and immediately ran with the ball in celebration. But referees called him for walking and put one second back on the clock.
After another timeout, the Raiders inbounded the ball to Ladareas Palmer, whose rushed 3-point shot from the corner bounced off the rim the final buzzer.
Durham led all scorers with 20 points and six assists.
Antioch and McGavock split two regular-season meetings, with one (at McGavock) an overtime affair. So the tournament rematch figured to be close — and it was.
Palmer, McGavock’s leading scorer, had another outstanding game. He scored eight straight points in the second quarter, including two 3s, giving the Raiders a 31-24 halftime lead. He finished with a team-high19 points and almost became the hero of the game himself.
Ultimately, that role went to someone less likely.
• East Lit tries again: East Literature gets a third shot at powerful Christ Presbyterian Academy in the District 10-AA boys tournament finals Tuesday at Stratford High.
The game matches the state’s No. 1 ranked AA team (AP) in CPA (29-2) against another in East Lit (22-6) that got all the way to the state finals last March.
Both teams easily won their semifinal contests Friday.
CPA went 16-0 during the district season. That included two victories over the Eagles.
“We left a lot on the table in both games,” East Lit coach Jim Fey said. “In the first game, we were up in the third quarter. Then we went to sleep and lost by seven. Nick Drake scored 24 points in the first game in which we were very competitive. He was injured and didn’t play the second game. We have him back.
“In the second game, we got behind by 12 points in the first quarter. Then I stopped coaching so much, we outscored them by one and we wound up losing by 11.”
Fey jokingly added that he might change his strategy Tuesday.
“I may just shut up and listen to the players,” he said in his typically self-deprecating fashion. “As I’ve told people, we’re 22-0 when I don’t coach and 0-6 when I do.”
One decision he’ll definitely make will be to continue to start senior guard Chris Willingham who scored his 1,000th point last week.
“We’re starting to peak, particularly at the defensive end,” Willingham said.
He scored 14 points, including seven in the third quarter, when the Eagles blew out David Lipscomb in Friday’s 66-42 semis win.
“All season, our goal has been to get back to state,” the 5-foot-9 sharpshooter, who lists Union, Maryville and Tennessee State as potential college choices, said. “It all starts in practice where we learn how to execute and run our plays right. I’ve tried to become more of a vocal leader this season.”
Said Fey: “Chris is an outstanding player. It was special in that Cheau Hendricks [who led the Eagles in scoring last year] scored his 1,000th point last year in the same game. [Willingham] is the seventh player we’ve had to hit 1,000.”
• Records rewritten: Senior Michael Hooker closed his brilliant career at Father Ryan at last weekend’s state championships with three state records.
Hooker wound up with 239 career wins (he broke the mark of 228 about a month ago), 65 single-season wins and 115 consecutive wins.
The Naval Academy bound Hooker got a second period pin of Memphis Christian Brothers’ Barrett Walthall for the DII 170-pound title.
It was one of three individual championships for Ryan, which won the Division II title crown. T.J. Holmes won the 182-pound title after winning at 189 last year, and Ricky Fisher won at 195.
Brentwood Academy junior Amos Mason pinned Battle Ground Academy’s Tyler Ragsdale to win at 220.
In Division I, McCoy Newberg of Independence (170), Parker Smith of Centennial (152) and Franklin’s Austin Woods (138) all claimed individual state championships.
Two of the top Metro Nashville wrestlers included McGavock’s Carlos Garcia, who got all the way to the finals of the 132-pound division, and a surprisingly strong semifinal finish by Hunters Lane’s Trenton Bell at 152.
• Burn to sign: Franklin Road Academy shot put standout Walter Burn will sign with East Tennessee State, 10:25 a.m. Tuesday in a ceremony at the upper school auditorium. He has competed in several top local and national meets.
• Cane Ridge coach: Jonathan Parks has been named football coach at Cane Ridge High. He replaces Greg Abner who started the program three years ago and went 5-25.
(at Franklin High)
Monday (girls): Brentwood vs. Independence, 6 p.m.
Monday (boys): Brentwood vs. Independence, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday (girls): Hillsboro vs. Franklin, 6 p.m.
Tuesday (boys): Hillsboro vs. Ravenwood, 7:30 p.m.
(at Antioch High)
Monday (girls): Antioch vs. Cane Ridge, 6 p.m.
Monday (boys): Cane Ridge vs. McGavock, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday (girls): Hunters Lane vs. Overton, 6 p.m.
Tuesday (boys): Hunters Lane vs. Antioch, 7:30 p.m.
(at Vol State, Gallatin)
Monday (girls): Sycamore vs. Goodpasture, consolation, 6 p.m.; Westmoreland vs. Macon County, finals, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday (boys): Westmoreland vs. Sycamore, consolation, 6 p.m.; Greenbrier vs. Macon County, finals, 7:30 p.m.
(at Stratford High)
Monday (girls): M.L. King vs. Hume-Fogg, 6 p.m.
Monday (boys): Lipscomb vs. Maplewood, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday (girls): Lipscomb vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy, 6 p.m.
Tuesday (boys): East Lit vs. Christ Presbyterian Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Friday (girls): Harpeth Hall at Girls Preparatory School; Father Ryan at Briarcrest; Brentwood Academy at Ensworth; Pope JPII at St. Benedict.
Saturday (boys): Baylor at McCallie; Montgomery Bell Academy at Briarcrest; Battle Ground Academy at Ensworth; Father Ryan at Memphis Christian Brothers.
Winners advance to state tournament at Lipscomb March 1-3.