By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Last Thursday’s contest between the Memphis Metro Mustangs and Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels couldn’t end any other way.
The game played in the TRA Gymnasium featured five players fouling out and several missed free throws. So when Rebel senior forward Darien Weakley was disqualified with his fifth foul with 0.1 on the clock, it was time for Memphis Metro’s Austin Crum to step to the line trailing 62-60.
When Crum missed the first foul shot, it was clear the Rebels would win the thrilling game. The guard missed the second shot on purpose but the Mustangs couldn’t get the ball back.
Head Coach David Hunt and his Rebels could breathe a sigh of relief holding on for the victory.
“Our free throws were horrendous,” Hunt acknowledged. “Last I heard we were 16 of 32. We’ve definitely have to work on our free throws. Actually we really haven’t had a problem shooting free throws all year. I don’t know what happened there.”
The shooting for both teams was going well in the first quarter. Metro’s Braden Twisdale dropped two deep three-pointers giving his team an 11-7 advantage.
Then TRA went on a 12-4 run sparked by a Carter Weakley spin move to the rim for a layup. Rebel AJ Hightower drained a triple and Carter’s big brother Darien made a layup giving TRA a 15-13 lead.
To close out the first quarter Rebel senior guard Johnie Sanfratello drove to the basket making a layup and drawing a foul. His three-point play made the score 19-15 in favor of TRA.
The Rebels dominated most of the action in the second quarter to build a 34-26 lead at the break. TRA added to its advantage in the third quarter with a Sheldon Spence triple, pair of Sanfratello free throws and a Carter Weakley drive to the rim for a bucket.
Things were looking good for TRA ahead 43-30.
“Then when we took that 13 point lead, we started doing too much one-on-one stuff, too much take my man and not work the ball around,” Hunt noted. “It almost came back and bit us. We let them right back into the game. They made some good plays and we didn’t.”
The Mustangs outscored TRA 15-4 the rest of the period to make the score 47-45 in favor of the Rebels. Trenton LaRue hit a three-pointer and Ishmael Hicks hit a couple of buckets in the paint during that stretch for the Mustangs.
TRA tried to hold onto the league in the fourth quarter. After a Ryan Duffy put TRA ahead 53-49, Memphis Metro went on a 11-2 run to grab a 60-55 advantage with less than a minute remaining.
With time running out, Sanfratello hit another big shot for his team. Earlier this season he hit a buzzer beater to beat Sacred Heart.
Going back a year, Sanfratello hit a big last-second three-pointer against Memphis Metro during his junior year.
This time “Johnie Basketball” pulled up and drained a three-pointer to make the score 60-58 with 36.2 remaining.
With pressure defense, Darien Weakley was able to steal the ball from a Mustang ball handler leading to a layup to tie the game with 24 seconds left.
Memphis Metro turned over the ball stepping over the line trying to inbound the ball. With less than 10 second remaining it was Darien again with the timely bucket making a layup to give TRA a 62-60 lead.
The Mustangs had one more chance to tie for win the game. After a few misses, Weakley fouled Crum with less than a second on the clock.
The misses gave TRA the win and sent the Rebels back into league play with momentum.
“At the end we made a couple of nice drives and nice finishes,” Hunt concluded. “Somehow and someway came out with this one with a win.”
The Rebels were able to pick up the league win over Sacred Heart Friday 72-57 led by Sanfratello’s 18 points.