Abbot’s shot ends Eagles’ title hopes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 12, 2000

Sports Writer

Against all odds, the No. 4 ranked Goshen High School Eagles put themselves in position to pull off a major upset

the No. 10 ranked 6A Northview Cougars in the second round of the Dothan Eagle/Progress Holiday Prep Classic Championship Tournament Thursday night.

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However, the dream of winning the tournament title came to a crashing halt in a matter of just 10 seconds for the Eagles. Miles Abbott’s putback off a missed shot in the closing moments gave the Cougars a dramatic 62-60 victory over the Eagles at the Dothan Civic Center. The victory placed Northview in the semifinals against Pleasant Home who defeated Rehobeth.

With the score tied at 60-60, Abbott quickly fired up a short jumper which fell short off the rim. However, Abbott risked fouling out of the game by racing down the rebound before lofting an eight foot jumper which found the bottom of the net.

The Eagles had one last chance to tie the game but turned the ball over without firing a shot before time ran out as the Cougars (9-0) handed the Eagles (7-1) their first loss of the season.

The loss spoiled a great comeback by the Eagles who erased an eight point deficit within a span of just 21 seconds. After Jamar Tucker picked off a pass racing downcourt for a score cutting the deficit to four points, the Eagles got a break on their next possession. Trailing 60-54 in the waning moments, Tucker was fouled while attempting to deliver a dunk over guard Michael Spann. Spann was immediately whistled for a technical foul giving the Eagles four free throw opportunities. Kendaris Pelton sank all four foul shots to the cut the deficit to two points. On the ensuing possession, Tucker sank a six-footer to tie the game at 60-60 with 31 seconds left. Unfortunately, Abbott’s timely putback doomed the Eagles chances.

Despite both teams coming in unbeaten, many people thought the Cougars superior size would be too much for Goshen. However, the Eagles fought all the way for 48 minutes as neither team was able to manage no more than a six point edge.

The Eagles led 33-27 at the intermission before the Cougars fought back into the contest in the third quarter outscoring Goshen by six points cutting the deficit to 44-43 heading into the dramatic final period.

Throughout the game, Goshen found the going tough from the perimeter as they were only able to hit 7-of-28 shots from three point range.

Despite the loss, GHS head coach Major Lane said he was proud of how the Eagles held their ground against the 6A Dothan school.

"I couldn’t have been more prouder of our kids even though we didn’t win," Lane said. "Averick (Rogers), Jamar, and Kendaris played the entire game without any rest. They played the entire game against a team that had a lot more depth."

Lane said the biggest difference in the outcome was Northview’s size in the paint allowing the Cougars to dominate on the boards.

"The third quarter was the difference in the game," Lane said. "We had adjusted well to the triangle and two (defense), but

we never did get them off the boards because many of their points was off of second shots. I know that was the best game in the tournament."

With three important area games over a span of four days coming up this week, Lane said it’s important for the Eagles to have short memory of getting over the Northview loss.

"Our focus now has to be on our area with three games (this week) that are very important," Lane said. "We need to take it one day at a time and let the chips fall where they may. The tournament was a good experience for our team, but we have to it aside knowing these upcoming games relate to our area tournament."

Forward Napolian Barnes led the Cougars with a powerful presence on the inside with 20 points, while Spann added 12 points. Abbott, who was the villain to the Eagles, finished with 10 points.

Rogers and Tucker each led the Eagles with 16 points while Kendaris Pelton chipped in 14 points in a losing cause. Tucker, however, finished with his seventh consecutive double-double with 14 rebounds.

The Eagles return to action this Tuesday night when they host Red Level in an important area game before starting out a four game road trip. The Eagles will travel on Thursday and Friday for area games against Georgiana and Highland Home before facing Elba (6-3) and Straughn next week. Tipoff for Tuesday’s game is set for 5 p.m. at Eagle Gym in Goshen.