By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS – Bishop Byrne Head Coach Jerry Randolph was experiencing his first Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebel/Bishop Byrne Red Knight thriller on Dec. 11 in the Bishop Byrne Gymnasium.
But for everyone else on the sidelines this was deja vu from two weeks earlier when Rebel Conner Alexander nailed a game-winning shot at the buzzer.
“Last time I actually wasn’t there for the game,” Randolph said. “My assistant coach was there and said we were up by 20 points and ended up losing the game.
“I made sure we that when we came back we were going to fight and give everything we’ve got,” he added. “They’ve got a wonderful team. They’re disciplined. All the credit to them, they played their butts off. We just fought hard in the end.”
It was Byrne on the winning side this time when sophomore forward Miles Littleton hit the game-winning shot with 13 seconds remaining to give the Red Knights a 60-59 victory.
“I’m looking for him to be special in the next couple of years,” Randolph said.
Before Littleton had his special moments at the end of the game, it was TRA’s Matt “Moose” Moody shining in the first three and half quarters.
The Red Knights tallied 20 points in the first quarter. But Moody kept the Rebels close 6 of his team’s last 9 points in the quarter to make the score 20-15.
TRA cut the deficit to a point at 20-19 with buckets from Austin Chambers and Braxton Ross. It was a Ross three-pointer with 2 minutes and 30 seconds left in the first half that gave the Rebels the lead at 28-27.
Moody made a free throw just before the first half buzzer that sent the Rebels into the locker room ahead 31-30.
The Red Knights came in the third quarter on a 6-0 run. Byrne held the advantage until TRA was able to make the score 39-38.
The teams traded leads until Byrne was able to make the score 48-43. Moody hit back-to-back layups in the post to make the tally 48-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Rebel Nick Biggs gave his team the lead with a pair of foul shots at 49-48. The game remained tight midway through the fourth with Byrne ahead 55-53.
TRA’s Ryan McCrory tied the game at 55-55 with a fast-break layup. Then it was Moody who gave the Rebels a 58-55 lead with a three-point play.
When Moody hit one of two free throws the tally was 59-55 with slightly more than a minute remaining.
To cut the deficit in half, Randolph put the ball in the hands of point guard Jarvier Farmer. Drawing a foul, Farmer hit both free throws to make the score 59-57.
After Byrne cut the deficit in half once again at 59-58, the Red Knights regain possession and burn the clock. The ball ended up in the hands of Littleton. The sophomore made a move and used a step-back jumper to give his team the lead with 13 seconds left.
TRA had one more chance to repeat the outcome of the first meeting. Ross dribbled setting up a play for Biggs on the baseline. Biggs exploded to the rim but waiting for him was the out-stretched arm of Littleton. The sophomore made the block just before the buzzer to preserve the win for the Red Knights.
“It feels good to come out on the winning end of a thriller,” Randolph concluded.