The slipper didn't fit.
Despite their surprise run to a Region 4-AAA title, the Nation Ford Falcons couldn't convert their regular season success into a fairytale ending. The top-seeded Falcons, a preseason afterthought, lost in overtime 50-46 Tuesday night to visiting Berea High School of Greenville in the first round of the boys high school playoffs.
Berea, fourth-place finishers with a 5-5 record in their region, jumped to an early lead and held off Nation Ford's valiant attempt at a comeback.
With the score tied at 41 with two minutes left in the fourth-quarter, both squads missed chances to take the lead. First, Berea forward Tre' Sullivan missed a wide-open layup on a back door cut with a minute to go. Then Bulldogs guard Kendal Eichelberger stole a pass and appeared to be fouled on his way to the basket. But a referee signaled he tripped and traveled before a foul was committed.
Nation Ford controlled the ball with 30 seconds to play, but failed to take a shot when Kevin Stewart passed the ball out of bounds. Berea missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer.
In overtime, Sullivan gave Berea the lead with a bucket in the lane. And Falcons center Andrew Komornick answered with a pair of free throws after he was fouled on a post move.
But Berea point guard Eichelberger, a sophomore, converted four consecutive free throws to put the Bulldogs up 47-43 with under a minute to play.
Nation Ford guard T.J. Jones connected on a deep trey with 20 seconds to play to pull the Falcons within one. Jones led the Falcons with 14 points, including a buzzer-beating three before halftime.
But Berea guard Rashad Maddox nailed two free throws and Sullivan split a pair at the stripe to seal the win.
"This is big," Bulldogs coach Jeff Maness said after the game. "We felt our region was pretty tough. And we knew we had seen tough teams all year and could hang in it tonight if we played hard."
Berea made just enough plays down the stretch. But it was Berea's improbable trio of three-point baskets in the first quarter giving the Bulldogs a nine-point lead that proved to be too much for the Falcons to overcome.
"Their strength is getting to the rim, so those three-pointers were out of character for them and it gave them a cushion," Nation Ford coach Brian Turner said. "And in the second half, they just kept getting into the lane. On defense they did a good job of putting us out of our comfort zone and we did a poor job of taking them out of theirs."
Still, the Falcons finished the year with a 14-10 record and a region title despite being a pre-season underdog. Turner, who took over as head coach at mid-season, said he's proud of his team's effort.
"It was a great four weeks to finish the season," he said. "I'm not disappointed in our team at all. I'm just disappointed for them. This loss stings."
NATION FORD 46
Berea -- Rashad Maddox 12, Javon Henderson 10, Kendall Eichelberg 4, Braylin Black 3, Bray Hallums 2, Lex Davis 7, Tre Sullivan 14.
Nation Ford -- Kevin Stewart 2, Sean Potts-Harris 6, TJ Jones 14, DJ Dinwiddie 2, Brandon Sturdivant 6, Brandon Harris 2, Andrew Komornik 14.
Team fouls -- Berea 11, Nation Ford 16. Fouled out -- None
Records: Nation Ford 13-10.