TAMPA — The first 35 or so minutes of Thursday night's Hillsborough County senior all-star game at Tampa Prep was standard fare for such exhibitions, heavy on the fouls and freelancing.
But it was the finish that made this one memorable.
Capping an exhilarating second-half rally for his team, Hillsborough High's Al-von Woodard nailed a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired, lifting the West to a 105-103 triumph in the annual contest sponsored by the Tampa Bay Basketball Coaches Association.
The West had trailed by as many as 18 in the second half.
"It was a fun game," said West coach Joe Fenlon, who five days before had watched his Tampa Prep squad fall in the Class 2A state final. "I think every kid on our team got to make some contribution."
Making the crucial one was Woodard, who scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half and was named the game's MVP.
Woodard's winner was set up by Wharton's Damian Dixon, who rebounded the second of Durant's Jeff Thomas' two missed free throws with 6.9 seconds to play and made a long outlet pass to the 5-foot-10 Terriers guard.
Woodard was one of five West players in double figures, joining Dixon (16), Blake's Michael McFarland (17), Tampa Prep's Jamal Cherry (16) and Jesuit's Austin Schonbrun (11).
Cherry scored five points in the final 45.9 seconds, including a hard drive to the basket for a layup that cut his team's deficit to 103-102 with 9.5 seconds to play. Hillsborough's Ravon Bullard and Newsome's Jake Hodges each scored 20 to lead the East.
Cherry won the halftime 3-point contest. McFarland — a 6-7 University of Florida football signee — won the dunk contest with a right-handed slam while holding a cell phone to his ear with his left hand on his final attempt.
Joey Knight can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3350.