THOMASVILLE — There were no less fireworks in the boys game as it was a back and forth contest from start to finish. The student sections for both Brookwood and Thomasville showed out in full as they were loud and proud all night.
“It was so cool for our kids and, to be honest, it’s something I’ve missed,” said Brookwood coach Nate VanDuyne, who coached basketball in Indiana for ten years. “That’s the norm for me so, I felt like I went home last night. I felt like it meant a lot more even to me just because of the environment. It felt like people cared. People were engaged, they were invested. It was just a really cool thing for not only us but, I think for probably everyone that played a part in it.”
Jordyn Jean opened up the scoring quickly for the Warriors, nailing a jumper from beyond the arc. Brookwood built up a 7-0 lead early behind Jean’s shooting and Walker Jackson’s remarkable shot blocking as Thomasville struggled with foul trouble early on. Players fed off the energy of the crowd as Xavier Burkes put the Bulldogs on his back, scoring six point on his own and cutting the lead to one.
Roscoe Jones jumped into the scoring column, doing work on offense and defense. Jones finished a tough shot inside and got a huge block on the other end as a tightly contested first quarter ended with Brookwood up 11-8.
Messiah Wilson opened the quarter with a big three to cut the Brookwood lead to one. Burkes was sent to the line and gave Thomasville the lead, knocking down both free throws. But, Jones snatched the lead back for Brookwood with a corner three and Jean extended the lead with a three of his own. Thomasville responded with back-to-back buckets inside, but it was raining threes for Brookwood as Will Stevens drained one from outside. It was a back and forth first half that ended with the Warriors leading 25-21.
The second half opened with a bang as Brookwood knocked down a three, but Burkes and Wilson responded, knocking down a pair of triples for Thomasville. Wilson followed up his three with a smooth euro step to put the Bulldogs in front by one.
Thomasville began clicking on offense with five consecutive baskets to start the half. Brookwood continued to score at a solid rate and an athletic put back by Jean kept the Warriors in it after a three from Thomasville’s Burkes.
However, that put back by Jean sparked the Brookwood offense and they began to click as Thomasville began to slow and the Warriors stole back the lead. The quarter ended on a massive block by Jackson and the Warriors headed into the final frame with a 41-36 lead and all the momentum.
Brookwood got back on the floor and picked up right where they left off, building a ten point lead off the back of Jackson and a three by Jean. Thomasville brought the full court pressure and began to chip away at the lead as Wilson took a steal coast to coast for the easy basket. A three by Burkes cut the Brookwood lead to three with 3:36 left on the clock.
Out of a timeout, Nigel Pittman put the Bulldogs on his back sinking a side step break away lay in and securing a steal on the ensuing play that he took to the hole to give Thomasville a one point lead. Brookwood’s Jackson would have none of it, however, and wrenched the lead back with a two-handed jam. With just under 1:30 to go, Brookwood led by one.
After forcing a five second violation, Thomasville’s Antonie Garland drew the foul and headed to the line with 21.6 seconds remaining. He drained both to give the Bulldogs the lead.
The crowd was going wild as Brookwood moved the ball down the floor for the final shot. The shot clock was off and student sections traded taunts as the Thomasville defense swarmed Jones taking away all options. He may be a freshman but, for VanDuyne, there was no one he’d rather have the ball in the closing seconds.
“I think with the way the night went I thought the best player on the floor was Roscoe (Jones) that night,” VanDuyne said. “He gets the ball with three seconds, it’s a broken down play and he has to make something of it. He made something out of nothing. That was a big big moment for him”
Jones went up and, as the horn sounded, drew the foul that sent him to the charity stripe with the game on the line. He tied it with the first and as the second free throw glided through the hoop Brookwood fans erupted as the Warriors student section stormed the court celebrating a hard fought victory.
“This was a true team win,” VanDuyne said. “A lot of guys had to play, a lot of guys had to contribute, guys had to make plays so, it came from all angles. There was emotion, there was physicality, there was great efforts and I think at the heart of it I’m just so proud of our guys.