Coaches stress the importance of free throws in every practice, remind players during games and Friday night the level of importance of a free throw reached a new level with both the Tigers and the Hornets. With 1.3 seconds left on the clock, Cottondale was trailing 47-46. Amari Banks was fouled and went to the line. One of two from the charity stripe would tie the game and force an overtime. Two would win it for the home team Hornets. Banks is a pretty solid free throw shooter and deals well with pressure, but this is before a packed gym with all the marbles on the line. Shot one was nothing but net and the intensity in the gym was building. Shot two – IN for the WIN!
The game started out with all the intensity that ended it. After one quarter, the two teams were knotted at 12. Amari Banks had the hot hands, picking up a pair of downtowners, with Dayron Garrett and Qui’darius Henderson both putting up a bucket. Cameron Brooks was two-for-two from the charity stripe. For Graceville, it was Sam Wesley and Andre Brown posting four points each, while Xavian Sorey and Joell Green had two each.
The second quarter was a duplicate of the first quarter with both teams knotting it up at 10 points. Graceville got a pair of threes from Sam Wesley and four points from Joell Green. For Cottondale, it was Amari Banks with four points, while Tykeece Bryant, Cameron Brooks, and Qui’darius Henderson all had two points each. At the half, the game was intense and tied at 22.
The Tigers had a new look when they took the court in the third quarter and it showed on the scoreboard with 16 points while their defense held the Hornets to just eight points. Graceville spread their scoring around five players with Xaxian Sorey picking up four and the others posting three each. Cottondale’s points came from four players, Dayron Garrett, Cameron Brooks, Dalvin Barnes, and Qui’darius Henderson. With eight minutes left to play, Cottondale had some work to do, trailing 38-31.
Coach Chris Obert is a master of the game from fundamentals to motivation to mindset and he must have produced a powerful minute between the final two quarters. Graceville posted nine points to Cottondale’s 18 but none more important for Cottondale than the final two from the line by Amari Banks. Banks posted six points, including four-for-six from the line, with Cameron Brooks having a stellar fourth quarter with eight points. Graceville has five points from Sam Wesley and three points from Xavian Sorey.
Leading Graceville on the night was Sam Wesley with 19 points, followed by Xavian Sorey with nine points. On board with seven points was Andre Brown, while Joell Green had six points.
For Cottondale, it was Amari Banks with 16 points, followed by Cameron Brooks with 14 points. Qui’darius Henderson tallied eight points, with Dayron Garrett putting up six points.