published Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Ringgold rally falls short against East Hall

By David Jenkins
Ringgold player Zach Dean, 10, dribbles the ball down the court while surrounded by East Hall players Kevon Davenport, 34, Tristin Cooper, 24, and Jocquein Hopkins, 22, during the Ringgold vs. East Hall prep basketball game on Saturday in Ringgold, Ga.
Ringgold player Zach Dean, 10, dribbles the ball down the court while surrounded by East Hall players Kevon Davenport, 34, Tristin Cooper, 24, and Jocquein Hopkins, 22, during the Ringgold vs. East Hall prep basketball game on Saturday in Ringgold, Ga.
Photo by Erin O. Smith.

RINGGOLD, Ga. — A miraculous comeback by the Ringgold Tigers in the Class AAA state basketball tournament Saturday night fell agonizingly short. But it took a great play by a clutch player to end their run.

East Hall junior forward Kevan Davenport put back his own miss as time expired to give the Vikings a 60-58 victory over the game and gritty Tigers in David Moss Gymnasium. It rewrote the ending many in the stands were hoping for, as the Tigers trailed by nine points with four minutes to play but rallied and drew even on a 3-pointer by Kyle Sholl with 48 seconds left.

The Tigers further courted the improbable when Dakota Baer stole an East Hall pass. But that thrill lasted only about five seconds as the Vikings' Elijiah Lipscomb stole it back to allow the visitors to set up the final shot.

Out of position under the backboard, Davenport contorted his body to flip the ball up to the rim, and he was in slightly better position when he one-handed the rebound home. No time even remained for Ringgold coach Greg Elkins to call a timeout.

"He's such an active player, he makes things happen," said East Hall coach Joe Dix, whose team will play Tuesday in the second round. "We made a key play down the stretch and found a way to get it to him. He didn't have much of a first shot, but his hard work got him a second chance."

According to the Vikings coaching staff, this was Davenport's fourth game-winner of the year. Twice he hit free throws with little or no time remaining, and he also had a buzzer-beating layup.

East Hall, which went 12 deep early and often, subbed out players at a dizzying pace, but the visitors seemed to have more trouble adjusting to the Tigers than the other way around. While the fouls were spread around, Ringgold got to the line 19 times in the first half and 36 times overall, making 20. Jordan Ransom, who seemed to be fouled every time got he got the ball on the block, went to the line 15 times, making 11 to account for most of his team-leading 17 points.

The Tigers battled to keep things close for three quarters, but right when things seemed to turn their way, East Hall made its best run of the night. The Tigers were in the bonus with 6:41 left in the game, while East Hall had only two personals and Davenport was on the bench with four fouls. But the Tigers hit only five of 11 foul shots down the stretch.

Jaquin Hopkins seemed to put the game out of reach with a pair of 3-pointers, the latter giving East Hall a 55-46 lead as the clock ticked inside four minutes. But J.T. Roach hit the Tigers' first 3-pointer of the game to begin the comeback and Sholl hit the second to tie it at 58.

The last clutch play of the night belonged to the visitors, however.

Dakota Baer and Zach Dean each scored 11 points to join Ransom in double figures for the 19-8 Tigers. Davenport scored 15 and Hopkins had 13 for East Hall.

Contact David Jenkins at sports@timesfreepress.com

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