After nearly a 20-year wait, Northwestern coach Mike Gossett finally got a measure of revenge on South Pointe coach Melvin Watson.
At the time, Gossett was coaching at Strom Thurmond and Watson was a star guard at Burke HS in Charleston. The teams met for the Lower State Class-AAA finals, and Watson made the final shot to lift Burke to the lower state title.
"He drove the length of the court with 10 seconds left and made the shot to beat me back then," Gossett recalled with a grin. "So I guess I can now say that I finally beat him. But Melvin is doing a great job and they have a solid team."
Gossett got the upper-hand on Friday by leading Northwestern to a 64-61 comeback victory over the Stallions at the South Pointe gymnasium.
The Trojans battled back from a seven-point, third-quarter deficit and used a solid interior performance from center Rontavious McClure to spark the late surge.
McClure, a 6-5 senior, banked a turnaround jumper in the paint with 1:43 remaining to give the Trojans their first lead, 58-57, since the second possession of the third quarter. From that point, Northwestern was able to use solid defense and clutch foul shooting to maintain control.
After McClure's shot, the Trojan defense forced a turnover. Forward Manzi Hill picked up the loose ball and was fouled. He sank both attempts for a 60-57 lead with 1:27 remaining.
The Northwestern defense forced a Stallion miss, and guard Jhante McMillian was fouled. He nailed both to push the lead to five, 62-57.
Stallion guard Tyreece Brice swished a 3-point jumper to narrow the gap, 62-60, with 41.8 seconds remaining.
Northwestern missed two free throws on the ensuing possession, and South Pointe standout guard Manzy Miller was fouled and went to the line with a shot at tying the contest. Miller, who scored a game-high 26 points, made one of two to keep the Trojans on top, 62-61, with 23.8 seconds remaining.
McMillan was fouled and went to the line with 20.2 seconds left. He missed both, but McClure towered to grab the offensive rebound. He attempted a put-back, but was fouled in the process. He calmly stepped to the line and sank both shots, putting the Trojans on top by three.
"I saw where the shot was going to be off," McClure said. "I just timed my jump and went up for the ball."
South Pointe did have a shot to tie, but missed a 3-point jumper with 5.7 seconds left. Following two Trojan free throws, the Stallions grabbed the rebound with another shot to tie. However, a desperation shot was off target as time expired.
"This was a tough loss for the team," Watson said. "We lost this game because we did not execute offensively and defensively. We are getting more guys out from football next week. Some of those guys (football players) got fatigued late in the game and it showed.
"It is going to take some time to get our football players in basketball shape, but we will keep working hard to get better."
NORTHWESTERN 64, SOUTH POINTE 61
Northwestern -- Keith Bell 13, Jhante McMillian 8, Keenan Orr 6, Rontavious McClure 21, Ja'Kari Golden 4, Mustafa Love 1, Mason Rudolph 2, Manzi Hill 8.
South Pointe -- Manzy Miller 26, Cody Blake 3, Zay Zay Williams 2, Chris Frazier 2, Geral Nabritt 12, Tyreece Brice 14.
3-pointers -- Northwestern 3 (Orr 2, Bell 1), South Pointe 10 (Miller 6, Brice 4). Team fouls -- Northwestern 18, South Pointe 27. Fouled out -- Miller (SP), Bell (NW). Records: Northwestern 3-1; South Pointe 1-3.