SANDESTIN, Fla. – Colin Jones’ 3-pointer at the buzzer lifted Cannon County to an exhilarating 72-70 win against Spanish Fort (Ala.) in an elimination game at the Sandestin Beach Basketball Classic Wednesday afternoon.
Jones’ late-game heroics landed the Lions (11-5) in Thursday’s fifth-place game against Paxton (Fla.) High School and provided a sense of relief for a team that had suffered last-second setbacks in three of its five losses this season.
“It felt good to come out on the winning end of one of those games,” said Jones, whose team fell into the loser’s bracket when a potential game-tying shot at the buzzer fell short in the Classic opener Monday.
Senior point guard Justin Davenport scored a game-high 22 points to lead Cannon County, followed by Jared Nave with 19 and Brian Cripps with 10. Jones netted eight points but none were bigger than his final 3-pointer.
Cannon County took a 69-68 lead when Davenport hit one of two free throws with 15 seconds remaining. The Lions were called for a foul with 6.7 seconds remaining and Spanish Fort cashed in on both attempts to take a 70-69 advantage and set the drama for the final few seconds.
The Lions quickly got the ball inbounds to Davenport, who pushed it up the court and penetrated the lane. When the defense collapsed on Davenport, he kicked the ball out to Jones, who was spotted up for the game-winning 3-pointer.
“They pressured us and Justin went to the middle and kicked it out to me,” Jones said. “I was wide open so I took the shot. As soon as I shot it I knew it was in. It felt great.”
Cannon County continued to receive solid rebounding and defensive intensity to win its second game in three days during the Florida Classic. Nave turned in his second double double of the tournament, following his 14-rebound effort in a win against Walton with 12 more caroms against Spanish Fort.
Cody Ruehlen added six points in the win but it was his smothering defense that was critical to the Lions’ success.
“Cody did a great job defensively on their best player,” Cannon County Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “We continue to get solid team rebounding and play good defense, especially when we had to have stops. You play these tournaments to get in situations and see how you respond. We responded favorably today and this win should be a big confidence booster for us.”
The Lions, who led 38-32 at the half, trailed 48-47 heading into the final quarter. The game was back-and-forth and remained a one-possession game for most of the final eight minutes, setting the stage for the dramatic ending.