South Pointe Stallions take 2nd place in Columbia tournament

ainelson@thestate.comDecember 23, 2013 

In its first visit to the Chick-fil-A Classic, South Pointe finished as the Classic II Division runner-up on Monday, falling 81-75 in overtime to Blanche Ely.

The Tigers, of Pompano Beach, Fla., were runners-up in 2012 and powered to the title this time with 24 points each from Therrell Gosier and all-tournament player Lance Tejada Jr.

The Stallions had to fight for the extra session after trailing through much of the game. Top scorer Mustafah Love and leading rebounder Montez McCullough fouled out before the end of regulation.

“It became a different game then,” Stallions coach Melvin Watson said.

All-tournament guard Anthony Johnson picked up his fourth foul with 2:31 left in overtime, and the senior fouled out with 1:17 to go and the game tied at 73. Johnson finished with 18 points. McCullough, Love and Johnson each finished with eight rebounds.

“It became kick it out and go out for the shot, instead of kick it out, set it up and send back in,” Watson said.

Tyreece Brice posted six of the Stallions’ nine points in the overtime, and finished with 19 points.

The Stallions were down by as many as 10 in the second half

“We wanted to just grind it out and keep taking shots. We knew it wasn’t going to be just one shot that erased the deficit, and we did a good job of doing that,” Watson said.

With 1:11 to go and his team down by three, Love went to the line and sank two free throws that set the Stallions up for a possible comeback win.

Love, who led the Stallions with 23 points, fouled out with 14.1 seconds to go, and Tejada made it a five-point game at the line. Then, with 7.7 seconds left, Chris Frasier swished a 3-pointer to get the Stallions within two, with no timeouts left.

Gosier missed two free throws with 6.9 seconds to go, and when Frasier put up another three, Johnson laid in the putback to knot the score at the buzzer and send the game to overtime.

The Stallions trailed early, but had broken into the lead at the end of the first half. Brice’s 3-point bucket early in the second half gave the Stallions a two-possession lead for the first time.

But with 11:40 to go, Gosier’s layup put Blanche Ely back in front, and two trips to the line saw the Tigers extend their lead to 44-39.

With eight minutes left, Blanche Ely had four scorers in double-digits and McCullough fouled out.

The Tigers opened up the game then, going up by 10 with 5:49 remaining. South Pointe hacked away at that lead, and with about three minutes to go, Brice scored back-to-back buckets to knot the score at 58.

South Pointe played a mostly solid first half, capitalizing on its athleticism to overcome a six-point deficit and take a 30-27 lead into the break. Trailing 24-22 with 4:57 left in the first half, South Pointe tried to run past the flagging Tigers.

“Credit the Florida team. We tried to speed up the game on them and they did a good job of managing the game and playing the game they wanted,” Watson said.

Love’s fastbreak jam with less than a minute to go put the Stallions up by one, and McCullough banked a basket at the buzzer to put the Stallions in front, 30-27.

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