The Dragons (1-0), ranked No. 10 in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll, led the No. 13 Panthers by 14 with less than two minutes remaining. PRP used a trapping defense and capitalized on some Dragons mistakes to mount a last-minute 15-2 charge.
Richard Gaines even got a chance to send it to overtime when Doss fouled him shooting a 3-pointer with :00.3 remaining, but after making the first two shots, his third attempt hit the back of the rim.
But PRP coach Dale Mabrey wasn’t dwelling on the last missed shot. He saw the team’s rally as a positive in a game featuring two Sixth Region powers.
“What a statement that is,” Mabrey said. “They believe in themselves. They play well together, and my hat’s off to them. And Doss deserved to win. They hit the shots they had to hit.”
After PRP scored the first five points of the game, Doss established control behind senior Dujuanta Weaver. The 5-foot-10 guard scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half as he found holes in the Panthers’ pressure defense.
“I was seeing the gap,” said Weaver, who added six assists. “I saw a couple shots I made that were good, so I was just hot.”
Weaver’s assist on Tyler Jefferson’s dunk gave Doss a 60-46 lead — its largest lead of the night — with less than two minutes remaining. He then hit a pair of free throws with 9.2 seconds left to put Dragons up 62-59.
The Panthers had trouble finding on open shot at the end. Gaines got the ball down on the block with about two seconds left. He dribbled to the corner, turned and tried a 3 as the buzzer and a referee’s whistle sounded. After a brief conference, the officials determined he was fouled before the buzzer and gave him a chance to send the game to overtime.
He finished with 24 points, including 11 of 12 free throws, and 12 rebounds. The 6-foot-5 senior center scored all his points in the final three quarters after missing half of the first quarter when he picked up two fouls.
“I just told (Gaines) it’s a long season,” Mabrey said. “He played so well. I could never be upset at that.”
Williams, on the other hand, did not see the silver lining in the victory. Instead of a day off for the varsity players Wednesday, they’ll have a team meeting and practice, hoping to avoid the mental breakdown that nearly cost them their season opener. Despite being tabbed by the other Sixth Region coaches, he said they not in a position to contend for the title yet.
“Our basketball IQ is not high enough,” said Williams, a 1996 Doss graduate and former University of Louisville star. “So, at some point, we’ll break down.”
PRP (0-1) – Gaines 24, Davidson 10, Glass 7, Raheem 14, Stevenson 2, Cranford 2, Thompson 2.
Doss (1-0) – Weaver 30, Hall 8, Gray 11, Jefferson 11, Collins 2.
3-point goals – Gaines, Glass, Raheem, Weaver 4, Hall 2, Gray.