Late layup lifts Thomas Jefferson past Elizabeth Forward
The set was called, simply, “the 1-4.”
But for Thomas Jefferson, the play turned into the biggest two points of the game.
Eric Fairman's pick-and-roll layup on a pass from Zach Talley with 6.2 seconds highlighted an improbable 65-63 come-from-behind victory over Elizabeth Forward on Friday.
The win vaulted Thomas Jefferson into the Section 4-AAA lead and ignited a jam-packed Jaguars gymnasium.
Thomas Jefferson (15-2, 7-1) trailed by as many as eight points with three minutes remaining and didn't take its first lead until there were 95 seconds left.
“Unbelievable,” Thomas Jefferson coach Dom DeCicco said. “These kids never gave up and found a way to win. It was amazing.”
The win was Thomas Jefferson's eighth in a row since a 57-56 setback to the Warriors last month and moved the Jaguars a half-game ahead of EF (14-3, 7-2).
“We don't lose at home,” Talley said. “No matter what it takes, we are going to come back and make it a game at home.”
Charlie Scharbo led Thomas Jefferson with 20 points, and Jason Horan added 13. But Talley was the difference-maker in the second half. He scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, including two free throws with 56.3 seconds remaining to give the Jaguars a 63-60 lead.
Elizabeth Forward got 18 points from Jaquaun Davidson, 12 from George Prota and 10 from Jasano Brooks. It was EF's second loss in three games after starting the season 13-1.
“That hurt,” Grayson said. “We had a chance to win the game and got rattled and rushed. The word for the day was calm down and stay focused.”
EF took control early with solid shooting and good defense but led by only 36-30 at the half.
“I thought we were down 25,” said DeCicco, whose team shot 12 of 24 from the free-throw line. “When I looked at the clock, I thought we were OK. They weren't missing and were killing us on the boards. I told the kids that they can't be any worse than that.”
EF took a 56-47 lead early in the fourth quarter, then eased up — playing into TJ's favor.
“We were up, and we started rushing,” Grayson said. “We wanted to run the plays and slow it down.”
Scharbo hit a 3-pointer, and Talley followed by a basket to make it 58-55.
After an EF free throw, Talley's running floater followed by a pair of free throws evened the game at 59-59.
TJ went ahead on a Scharbo basket and two Talley free throws, but Davidson tied the game at 63-63 when he made three free throw with 30.8 left.
It set up “the 1-4.”
“I told them we are going at 10, and this is what we are going to get, and that's what we got,” DeCicco said.
Davidson's desperation half-court 3-pointer hit off the back iron at the buzzer.
“We knew that was coming, and we were supposed to switch,” Grayson said. “We just didn't do it.”