PLANT CITY — Emotions boiled over into a shoving match Friday between Durant and East Bay after the Cougars won their first Class 5A, District 8 championship 39-38 in overtime.
Durant relied heavily on the leadership and play-making abilities of seniors as the game came to an intense conclusion at Plant City High.
"This was huge and now we're ready to see where we can go," Durant coach Trent Tice said. "Our seniors did a great job leading us tonight. They stepped up and made a lot of plays in the second half, which was the key to us getting the victory. I felt confident going into overtime because of the fact that we have our seniors."
That senior leadership was shown in the second quarter after Durant found itself trailing 16-12. Senior point guard Adrian Nelson called timeout and rallied his teammates to take a 20-16 lead into halftime.
The lead would grow to 11 after the half only to see the Indians fight their way back with 3-point shooting. East Bay senior Jesse Bellenger hit the most crucial 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to tie the game at 34 and send it into overtime.
Both teams struggled in overtime, but it was Nelson on the line with a chance to take the lead with just more than five seconds left on the clock. He made the second of his two free throws to give his team a 39-38 lead. It proved to be enough.
"Once we got it to overtime I really felt that we were going to win it," East Bay coach Billy Teeden said. "We played with such enthusiasm and heart, but we didn't get the bounce. It was one of those games where one play here or there and we won it."