Matanzas' Marquice Hill sank a 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Pirates to a win over their crosstown rival.
Matanzas’ boys basketball team led by as much as 7 points in the final 2 minutes of its game against Flagler Palm Coast on the night of Thursday, Feb. 7.
But the game is never over in this kind of rivalry. The Pirates felt the pressure of the atmosphere in Matanzas High School’s gym. The Pirates turned the ball over three straight times, and after a layup by FPC’s Azavier Fleming, the game was tied with fewer than 15 seconds to play.
The Pirates didn’t take a time out to draw up a play. Their goal was to get the best shot possible before the buzzer sounded. Pirates guard Michael Williams dribbled the ball up the floor as the seconds ticked away. He tried to work his way around screens to get to the rim, but the Bulldogs’ defense stifled him.
In a last-ditch effort, Williams flung the ball to Maleik Gibson, who then shuffled the ball to Marquice Hill, who stood open in the right corner just behind the 3-point line.
Hill hadn’t made a 3-pointer the entire game.
All Matanzas coach Donald Lockhart could do was watch from the bench as Hill rose up for the potential game-winning jumper as the game clock expired.
“When I saw the ball leave his hand, I knew it was good,” Lockhart said.
“It was a great night. Great crowd, great energy and a great event for the community. I’m proud to have been a part of it.”
FPC coach Gary McDaniel
Hill’s triple lifted the Pirates to a 55-52 victory — their second win in a row against the Bulldogs.
“I thought our comeback was brilliant,” Bulldogs coach Gary McDaniel said. “I’m proud of our guys. I just wish they didn’t make that shot.”
FPC’s Fleming led all scorers with 18 points. But defensively, the Pirates’ plan was to disrupt the Bulldogs’ star forward D’Mahgio Warren, who averages about 22 points per game.
They knew they couldn’t guard Warren one-on-one, Lockhart said, so the Pirates defended him with multiple players each possession.
Warren, who was plagued by foul trouble for much of the game, was held to 8 points.
“We had a game plan and we were able to stick to it,” Lockhart said.