Tyner was limited to four points in the fourth quarter of its District 6-AA boys' high school basketball game Friday against Brainerd, but that included the most timely basket of the night.
Travis Murphy scored inside off a feed from Sadik Spence with 10 seconds to play, and the Rams defeated the Panthers 46-44 at Tyner.
When Brainerd's Demetrius Kitchens made the second of two free throws with 22 seconds remaining to make it 44-44, it was the first time the Panthers had not trailed since they fell behind 5-4. Afterward, the Rams hurried the ball into the frontcourt, where their point guard's penetration drew attention and he found Murphy sneaking toward the goal from the right side.
"I thought about calling time out on that last possession," Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. "But then I thought, 'They haven't listened to me all game. Why call a timeout?'
"Anyway, it was a heads-up play. Sadik did a good job finding Travis Murphy, and Murphy put it in."
After that score, Brainerd coach Robert High didn't have the same option as his counterpart. He watched Jabari Evans take a turnaround 3-point shot in the waning seconds that hit off the rim.
"We didn't have a timeout left," High said.
He used two in the third quarter, each time with his team trailing by 14, hoping to change momentum. After the second of those, Brainerd rallied within 39-33 late in the period.
Then Trey Suttles' field goal underneath with 7:14 to go proved to be Tyner's last points until Murphy capped his team-high 18-point night at the end.
"I truly believed we panicked," Harris said. "The combination of our shot selection, turnovers, and the calls we didn't get, that's what allowed them to get back in the game."
Brainerd (8-4, 3-2) used its final two timeouts within 34 seconds of each other to prevent turning the ball over within the last 1:37. The Panthers went from 15 turnovers in the first half to six in the second and overall forced the Rams into 18.
"If we had played the first half like we did the second half," High said, "we win the ballgame."
Tyner (8-0) is atop the league standings at 5-0, but both coaches agreed there is a lot of basketball left to be played.
"Take under consideration I think Tyner is the best thing in town, bar none," High said. "We came up here and played with these people at their home. That should tell you the caliber of our ballclub."
Demetrius Kitchens sparked Brainerd's comeback, scoring all 16 of his points in the second half. Tshombe High's nine points were all in the first half. Jeulian High, the Panthers' rebound leader with eight, had to leave the game with a right knee injury with 4:04 to play.
Jemicah Bowman had nine points for the Rams, all on 3-pointers.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.