Coleman’s put back shocks Loachapoka in finals

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 25, 2001

Sports Editor

They don’t call Pleasant Home the "giant killers" for nothing.

Author Coleman’s put back basket off his own miss as the final buzzer sounded catapulted the Eagles to 51-49 victory over the Loachapoka Indians in the Class 1A Boy’s Southeast Regional finals on Friday night.

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"I’m really speechless at this point," said PHS head coach Anthony Clark after the game about his team’s improbable comeback victory. Loachapoka (19-10) led 15-5 after the first quarter and held the lead throughout the game until Coleman’s shot rolled in, setting off a wild celebration at center court and sending the Eagles (27-5) to the Class 1A Final Four in Birmingham for the third straight year.

The Loachapoka players sat stunned in disbelief, perhaps wondering how a game they had controlled for the most part, got away from them at the end.

Not the most athletic team and not tall enough to match-up with the Indians height inside, the Eagles still found away to win.

Pleasant Home guard T.J. Kelly said it all comes down to fundamentals.

"Everyday in practice, that’s what we go do. The ‘old school’ stuff," said Kelly, who finished with 17 points, behind Coleman’s game-high 21. "Coach (Clark) said to have a good team we’ve got to be fundamentally sound, because we’re not that athletic. I just think we’re a pretty smart team and all the credit goes to Coach Clark, he knows what he’s doing."

Case in point:

After the Indians’ Montavis Pitts was called for a backcourt violation with 28 seconds left in the game, the Eagles tied the game on a layup by Kelly, who had just missed a 3-point attempt.

The senior forward did something that you don’t often see high school players, or college players for that matter, do.

He followed his shot.

Kelly’s rebound and shot tied the score at 49-49 with 9.5 seconds left in the game. He was also fouled on the play, but missed the free throw.

However, when Loachapoka’s Demetrice Hill attempted to pull down the rebound, the Eagles’ Jonathan Little went for the ball as well.

The result?

Jump ball and possession awarded to Pleasant Home.

"It’s the little things , I think, that we do well," said Kelly. "But this is just amazing."

After a timeout, Troy Turman got control of a loose ball on the in bounds play, passed to Kelly, who then found Coleman inside for the game winner.

"We knew we wanted to get the ball to either T.J. or A.C. (Coleman)," said Clark. "And we did want them to take it to the hole, with those big guys inside in foul trouble. A.C.’s got a knack for taking the ball inside the lane and being able to hesitate and put it in. We knew if we could get one of those two (Coleman or Kelly) going to the basket hard, we’d be in good shape."

Helping Pleasant Home’s cause was their shooting from the foul line. The Eagles went to the line 25 times and converted 19 free throws.

Loachapoka only managed seven trips to the line during the game.

"Our game plan was to come in and kick the ball out for 3-pointers. And we shot plenty of them, we just couldn’t make any," Clark said.

Pleasant Home hit just 4-of-23 attempts from behind the arc.

Pitts led Loachapoka with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Demarco Philpot followed with 12 points.