Stephens' last-second shot sends Heidelberg to victory

By Staff
BIG JUMPER Heidelberg's Joe Agee tries to hit a three-pointer against Amanda Elzy.The Oilers pulled out a close 60-59 win. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
Feb. 28, 2002
JACKSON You would have been hard pressed to find a happier person from here to Heidelberg Wednesday night than Heidelberg's Fred Stephens.
For nearly all of the Oilers' 60-59 opening-round win over Amanda Elzy of Greenwood in the Class 3A State Tournament, Stephens had endured a sub-par performance.
But when the Oilers could wait absolutely no longer if they were to continue their season, it was Stephens who saved the day.
With 10.4 seconds left and Elzy holding a 59-58 lead, the Oilers inbounded the ball in front of their bench just inside midcourt. Jessie Jones penetrated to the hoop, but his shot under heavy pressure sailed well over the rim. Stephens, who had missed several close shots throughout the night, was there for the game-winning offside putback with 1.2 seconds left.
Marvin McDonald led the Oilers in scoring with 25 points. He hit four 3-pointers. Elzy made sure he didn't get the game-winning try.
The best game of the tournament to date saw 14 lead changes and 12 ties. Heidelberg's biggest lead was five points midway through the second quarter. Elzy enjoyed a brief seven-point lead with 5:45 to go in the third period.
A 3-pointer by McDonald with five seconds showing ended the third quarter with a 40-40 stalemate.
Neither team led by more than four points over the final eight minutes. The Panthers were up 50-46 after a 3-pointer by Tavaris Johnson with 4:57 left, but the Oilers cut it back to one at 50-49 on a three-point play by McDonald 13 seconds later.
After ties at 52-52, 54-54, and 56-56, McDonald drove the lane for a 58-56 Heidelberg lead with 31 seconds to go. Elzy promptly reclaimed the lead on a 3-pointer by Corderick Smith with 17 seconds remaining. Smith had been helped off the court with an ankle injury with 1:38 showing. His return was typical of the effort the game produced.
Heidelberg trailed 12-11 after one period and entered halftime looking at a 26-24 deficit. The first half was just as hotly contested as those scores would indicate as the teams swapped the lead seven times and were tied on four occasions.
The Oilers led 21-16 before Elzy went on a 10-0 run to take a 26-21 lead. Johnson had five points for the Panthers during that run.
McDonald, a 6-foot senior, had 13 first half points for Heidelberg, 30-7, after connecting on three 3-point attempts.
Smith had 10 first half points for the Panthers, who finished 27-10.
In addition to McDonald's 25 points, the Oilers also got 11 points from Jones, 10 from Derrick Turner, seven from Stephens, four from Joe Agee, and three from Cedric Pierce. The Oilers made four 3-pointers, all by McDonald, and 16 of their 26 free throws.
Heidelberg will face Jefferson County Tuesday at 8 p.m. in the 3A semifinals.
Elzey got 21 points from Smith, 13 from Chidress Ferderick, and nine from Johnson. The Panthers hit six 3-pointers and were 7-of-13 at the free-throw line.

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