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OT buzzer-beater sends West Hall to state
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For a split second, West Hall guard Jarquise Young thought he was going to have to make a half-court shot in order to beat Gainesville on Friday in the second round of the Region 7-AAA boys basketball tournament.

But then he saw his teammate Dylan Bartlett wide open underneath the basket. So with less than four seconds left in overtime, Young fired the ball to Bartlett, who laid the ball in as time expired to give the Spartans a 66-65 win and advance them to the semifinals where they will play Johnson on Monday at Flowery Branch.

“Jarquise had the assist of the year and Bartlett had the shot of the year,” West Hall coach Warren Sellers said. “Dylan had the presence of mind to just run toward the basket and it paid off.”

Bartlett was in that position to score because he was standing at mid court during the free throw attempts from Gainesville’s Blake Sims.

After Sims made the first attempt to make the score 64-63 Johnson, his second attempt missed and sent a flurry of players scrambling to pick up the loose ball. Emerging from the fracas was Mike Norman, who picked up the ball and laid it in to give
Gainesville (14-10) a one-point lead with four seconds left.

“I took off and was thinking about shooting it from half court,” Young said. “But I looked up, saw Dylan and had confidence in him that he would make the shot.”

The layup sent the West Hall (16-11) bench into a frenzy, including junior Shunquez Stephens, who fouled out in overtime after scoring 21 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.

“Without Shunquez we wouldn’t have been in this contest,” said Young, who finished with 18 points. “Without him, we wouldn’t have had a chance to make that last shot.”

The same can be said about Dre Pou, who made all six of his free throws in overtime and finished with 15 points.

“Dre had ice in his veins tonight,” Sellers said.

So too did a few guys from Gainesville, including Sims, who sent the game to overtime by sinking a floater in the lane with 4.7 seconds left in regulation. Sims finished the game with a game-high 27 points.

While Sims pushed the game to overtime, Quon Holcomb, who finished with 10 points, provided a key 3-pointer in the extra period to tie the game at 59.

After Pou’s two free throws gave West Hall a 61-59 lead, Gainesville’s Ke’Odric Sadler took a charge from Stephens as the junior was driving toward the basket.

Stephens fouled out on the play, and headed to the bench to join fellow post player William Stroup, who fouled out in the fourth quarter.

“At the end we looked like we were playing in a 5-foot-8 and under league,” Sellars said. “I’m happy that we were able to overcome that adversity and escape with a win.”

Despite the last-second heroics, Sellers never believed his team was out of it.

“With this bunch, I know it’s never over,” he said.

It is now for Gainesville, which Sellers said is disappointing.

“It’s a shame that both of us can’t advance,” he said. “I know both of us are two of the top four in this region.”
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