What has been a crazy season in District 1-5A ended in a crazy night Tuesday.
District leaders Byrd (25-5, 8-2) and Captain Shreve (16-9, 8-2) needed buckets in the last seven seconds of their games to take leads and end the regular season as co-champions.
Byrd’s Montrey Thomas took a Chad Lott pass and drilled a 3-pointer with about seven seconds left to lift the Yellow Jackets to a 70-69 win at Parkway. After Airline’s Austin Brannon nailed a 3-pointer, Shreve’s Toronco Loston answered at the buzzer to give the Gators a 45-44 road win. As of Tuesday night, a date and time hadn’t been set for a Byrd-Shreve district championship game to determine which team gets the full power point and which gets one-half of a point. Thomas’ 3-pointer capped a 27-point night in which he made four 3-pointers. “I gave it to Chad, and he trusted me when he gave it back,” Thomas said. “Everybody had confidence in me that I would knock it down. “We knew what was at stake tonight. And we knew that this was (Parkway’s) house, and that they really wanted to win their last game.” Back at Airline, Loston scored just nine points in what was a defensive game. But when he got the ball with 1.6 seconds left, he dribbled once and stepped back to the corner where he made the shot with two defenders in his face. “(Airline) knew where the ball was going because (Jesse McWright) had fouled out,” said Captain Shreve coach Todd Martinez. “(Loston) is a great player, and he made an unbelievable shot that didn’t hit the rim. “But I told Austin Brannon that his shot was no less special than the one Loston hit. Loston’s just happened to make us co-champions.” This Gators’ basketball team became the first in school history to win at least of share of three straight district titles. Byrd wins a share of its first boys basketball district title in at least a decade. “This is a big deal because we haven’t done it in so long,” said Byrd coach Rusty Johnson. “This gives the kids something to hang up in the gym. “This was a typical (District 1-5A) game where everyone has had trouble on the road. Parkway played a great game and is a really good team.” The Panthers (11-14, 3-7) were already out of the playoffs, but they surged from a one-point halftime deficit to a 53-43 lead with a 17-6 run. Marquis King scored all six of his points during the run while Brodrick Jefferson scored four of his game-high 28 points. “That’s kind of been the story of our season, but I love this group of guys and they gave it everything they had tonight,” said Parkway coach Mike Guess about the close loss, one of five defeats by four points or less this season. “Like a lot of our games this season, we missed too many close shots and too many free throws. “But I’m proud of the toughness these guys showed, the way they defended and rebounded.” Jefferson is one of six Parkway seniors, but players like Keondre Wudtee will leave the Panthers will plenty of talent in the future. Byrd eased its way back into the game, cutting Parkway’s lead to 64-63 with four minutes left on a David Holmes (12 points) bucket. Lott scored the last of 15 points on a putback attempt to tie the game, and he corralled a loose ball to end Parkway’s final possession. Airline (10-18, 4-6) used a second-half surge to erase a two-point halftime deficit, eventually leading 44-42 after Brannon’s 3-pointer late. “It was off the charts tonight — the best effort of the season,” said Airline coach Chris White. “We played our hearts out for four quarters. “We’re losing four seniors, but we’ve started two freshmen, two sophomores and one junior this year. We’re very young, and the future is very bright.” Shreve’s Tyrone Earls scored a team-high 11 points while Airline’s Tyrice Neal had a game-high 12 points.