OCALA — One flick of Jake Hodges' wrist sent Newsome into the Class 5A region final.
Hodges' dramatic baseline 3 at the final buzzer lifted the visiting Wolves to a 52-49 win over Ocala Forest on Tuesday, setting up a showdown Saturday against Bartow.
"I was just the lucky person who got open and made the shot," said Hodges after emerging from a swarm of jubilant teammates.
Newsome (22-8) erased an eight-point deficit in the final four minutes thanks to a swarming full-court press.
"It's the same thing you hear on TV, defense is going to win championships," Newsome coach John Mackey said. "Our pressure made a difference late in the game. When we started to go full-court, they began to look like they were out of their element a little bit."
After a hot start produced an 18-15 Forest lead, the host Wildcats (24-3) scored only 31 points on 12 total field goals over the final three quarters.
The Wolves, meanwhile, were torrid from 3-point range. Trent Mackey hit five of Newsome's seven 3s and finished with a game-high 17 points. It was Mackey's assist, though, that won the game for the Wolves. The 6-foot-3 junior guard first looked inside with five seconds remaining but opted against forcing an entry pass. Instead, he dished to Hodges in the corner.
"I don't shoot too many 3s," Hodges said, "but I'm just glad that one went in."