Saturday, July 18, 2015

Top 10 of 2014-15: #6: Mills Godwin Outlasts Douglas Freeman in Boys Hoops 3-OT Thriller

Almost all of the attention in the high school basketball world the night of February 6th focused on, and rightfully so, the newly renovated gym at Henrico High School, where the Warriors and Highland Springs were set to play their second (and what turned out to be final) game of the season against each other.

But a smaller, just as passionate group of fans gathered at Mills Godwin's gym, packing it out for Senior Night as those Rebels of Douglas Freeman came calling. After the Eagles won the girls varsity game for lone senior Emily Reynolds, it was time for the boys showdown.

The Rebels arrived without the hero of the first meeting between the two, Clayton Leep, who scored with 1.6 seconds left to give Douglas Freeman the home win on January 11th. The first half of action provided intensity, but not exactly high quality play, and with the halftime score being Douglas Freeman 15, Mills Godwin 6, there was no way to know what would unfold, not in the final 16 minutes, but in the final 28 minutes of action.

Both teams finally found a spark on offense, but led by Gabe Fountain, the Rebels still enjoyed a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter. One of Fountain's four three-pointers made it 32-22 Rebels just over ninety seconds into the fourth.

But behind a raucous gym that was 75/25 in favor of the home team, the Eagles clawed their way back behind the duo of Dillon Thomas and Brett Buisson. It was Thomas who would hit the trey that tied the game at 39-39, ending a 17-7 run that forced overtime and sent fans into a frenzy.

By this time, the Warriors had narrowly defeated the Springers across town, and Twitter quickly turned its focus to what was unfolding on Pump Road.

The undermanned Rebels again took the lead in the first extra session, but missed opportunities to close out their rivals, and, though playing about as good a defense as you can on the last play of overtime, Buisson somehow found the basket on a three-point try with a hand in his face at the top of the key to force double overtime at 44-44.

Again facing defeat, the Eagles found a way to force more basketball, as Buisson scored three points the old-fashioned way with just under a minute left. The clock was past 10pm, the temperature in the gym was stifling, but the scoreboard read 52-52, and no one dared leave.

After leading over most of six periods, Douglas Freeman finally ran out of gas in the third and final extra session. The Eagles would score nine of their 15 third-overtime points from the free throw line as the Rebels were forced to foul and seeing shot and shot come up short, the sign of a tired time. Fountain ended with 32 points. For Godwin, Buisson scored 18, while Thomas had 15.

The final score read 67-55, Mills Godwin, a win that earned the Eagles the final spot in the Conference 11 Tournament. But on that night, the playoff bid was secondary. The fans that packed that gym will long remember that you don't need the top two teams in a conference, region, or state, nor do you even need a well-played first half, to become witnesses to a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat classic.

Mills Godwin's revenge over Douglas Freeman in triple overtime on February 6th, the #6 Biggest Event on RVA Sports Network in the 2014-15 season.

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