TRINITY — Standing at the foul line, Brandon Roberts took a deep breath before taking three shots at a win.
The first attempt uncharacteristically bounced off the front of the rim — one of the few shots attempted by the West Morgan High star that didn’t fall through the bottom of the net.
But the next two? Madison Academy wasn’t that lucky.
Roberts drained a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game, giving West Morgan’s students a reason to storm the court as the Rebels topped fifth-ranked Madison Academy 75-73 Friday night for a Class 3A, Area 15 win.
The win gives West Morgan (18-4) a chance to take the top seed in the Area 15 tournament.
If the Rebels beat Elkmont on Friday, they finish tied with Madison Academy for first place.
“That first free throw, the one I missed, I was too anxious,” Roberts said. “The game was intense, and I was pretty hyped up. But there was no way I was going to miss those last two.”
No need to worry. No one is going to pile on the player who made almost every shot attempted.
Roberts put on a scoring clinic — and, at times, appeared almost unguardable. The West Morgan star finished with 48 points, with 26 coming in the second half.
“I’m just proud of our team,” West Morgan coach Mike Henson said. “We had some adversity this week with injuries, but these guys fought through all of that. The team chemistry is so tight right now. They’re gelling right now — just playing really well.”
The overflow crowd in attendance witnessed a game that wasn’t short on intriguing storylines.
With Roberts and Madison Academy forward Josh Langford, at least two future college players were on the floor. And if Mustangs guard Kerryon Johnson decides not to play football, he would be a third.
And the talent showed out.
Langford poured in 35 points to lead Madison Academy, including several clutch baskets that helped the Mustangs keep pace in the second half. Johnson added 22 points for Madison Academy.
But intriguing as the matchups were, the wild finish stole the show.
West Morgan got a clutch free throw from freshman reserve KeAndre Swopes to tie the score with 16.6 seconds remaining, and then responded with a defensive stop — setting up a bizarre finish.
With 0.4 seconds remaining, Brandon Roberts was fouled while heaving up a shot from near midcourt, giving him an opportunity to attempt three free throws for the win.
“Those final 20 seconds were intense,” Roberts said. “This game, we just made up our mind that we were going to play tough defense, and those last few possessions, we weren’t going to let Langford take the shot. Everyone picked it up when we needed it most.
“Getting this win, it’s huge for our team. It gives us a lot of confidence heading into the postseason.”
West Morgan led most of the game, but never by a wide margin. The Rebels carried a 41-34 cushion into halftime.
Peyton Mullican finished with eight points for West Morgan, while Swopes tossed in seven.
For West Morgan, a gritty supporting cast was the difference. The Rebels had two players out with injuries, and Grant Workman made a game time decision to play with an ankle injury.
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to play when I got up this morning, but as it got closer, there was no way that I wasn’t playing,” said Workman, who finished with six points. “This game was way too important.”
Roberts said Workman’s sacrifice didn’t go unnoticed.
“That just shows the love Grant has for this team,” he said. “Everyone in this locker room, we’ll do whatever it takes to help our team succeed. Grant made a huge sacrifice for us, coming out here and playing through some pain. That’s just the type of team we have.”
Madison Academy 58, West Morgan 36: Krystyn Chambers led West Morgan with nine points in the loss. Sydney Sanders added seven for the Rebels.
Madison Academy led 28-16 at halftime.
Cierra Jones paced Madison Academy with 14 points.
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