Panthers escape with win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

PLANTERSVILLE – Dallas County High School coach Bill Porter Jr. knew he was seeing one of the best games of his coaching career Tuesday night – even though his team was on the losing end.

Deonta Williams scored the final six points for Southside High, including a pair of free throws with 3.3 seconds left to lift the Panthers to a thrilling 76-75 victory over the host Dallas County Hornets.

The Panthers improved to 21-2 on the season, while Dallas County fell to 11-12.

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With Dallas County leading 73-70 with 34.3 seconds remaining, Williams keyed the Southside rally with a jumper from the top of the key.

On the next play, Fontano Watters stole Dallas County’s inbound pass and fed it to Williams for the lay-up to give Southside the lead, 74-73.

The Hornets answered with Antonio Perry’s driving lay-up from the right wing that put Dallas County back in front, 75-74.

The Hornets’ inbound pass was picked off by Watters, who stepped in front of a Dallas County player on the right baseline. Watters then tossed the ball to Williams, who was waiting on the right wing. Williams slipped past one defender, but was fouled as the ball hit off the front of the rim.

Williams then sank both charity shots to give the Panthers the lead.

“I just wanted to be a senior, and step up and win,” Williams said. “Fontano got the steal and dished me the ball. I wanted to score and win. I just put a little effort into it.”

The game, however, was far from over.

An official whistled Southside for a foul as the final buzzer sounded. The foul sent Perry to the free-throw line with a chance to either tie or win the game for the Hornets. But Perry missed the front end of a one-and-one, as Southside fans and players gathered at mid-court.

“It was a heck of a ballgame,” Porter said. “This is what high school basketball is all about – two rivals going toe-to-toe.”

Southside led by 12 heading into the final period, but saw that advantage quickly disintegrate. A Josh Spears three-pointer and a running lay-up by Michael Johnson pulled Dallas County to within 59-53.

Two minutes later, Artelius Dixon drained a three-pointer from the right corner to get the Hornets’ deficit to three, 61-58.

After the teams traded baskets, Rafel Miller ran the lane for a lay-up to narrow the margin to 63-62. Dallas County finally pulled ahead, 65-63, on Dixon’s three-pointer from the top of the key.

Jeffery Anderson’s offensive rebound and 7-footer from the right wing tied the game for Southside.

The Panthers took back a 67-65 lead when Williams retrieved the ball after being blocked by Johnson, then sent the ball over Johnson for a lay-up.

Rafel Miller sank a three-pointer from the left wing to give Dallas County a 68-67 lead. The gap grew to 70-67 when Johnson drove past Anderson on the right baseline for a lay-up.

After each team made one free throw, Anderson hit a running lay-up to cut the Panthers’ deficit to 71-70.

But Miller made it a three-point Dallas County lead, 73-70, with two free throws, before Williams began the rally for Southside.

“The guys dug down deep and fought,” Southside coach Velton Robinson said, “despite all the turnovers and not getting back on defense.

“We’ll take a win any way we can get it,” Robinson said. “We didn’t play defense for nothing. We’ll probably work on that for four hours.”