By Ed Greif
Micah Goss' three-point basket with two seconds left in the game gave the Fulton Falcons a 59-56 victory over the SMHS Panthers in the semi-finals of the Region 2AA Tournament Tuesday night at Knox Carter High School.
Goss' shot came after Panther senior Matt Troino converted two free throws with 33.4 seconds left to tie the game at 56-56. Fulton got the ball let time run down and then called timeout to set up the winning shot. The Panthers called time with 1.2 seconds left to set up a tying shot, but the in-bound pass bounced out of bounds. Fulton took over and ran out the clock.
The Falcons built a six-point lead, but the Panthers sliced the gap to 14-11 on a Brown Rowan trey; however, the Falcons finished the quarter with a 4-0 run for an 18-11 advantage.
SMHS was four of nine from the floor with five turnovers, while the Falcons were eight of 21, getting a lot of second and third shots in several possessions. Justin Simmons had four points for the Panthers. Goss had six points for the Falcons.
SMHS sliced the Falcon advantage to 22-21, but Fulton converted three of five free throws for a 25-21 lead with 58.3 seconds remaining in the half.
A Gage Spence lay-up sliced the deficit to 25-23, but a trey by Darius Filer put Fulton ahead 28-23 with five seconds left; however, a trey at the buzzer by Luke Matthews made it 28-26 at the break.
Matthews buried three treys in the second quarter for the Panthers, who were five of 13 from the field, including three of four beyond the arc.
Matthews' fourth trey of the game gave the Panthers a 33-29 advantage, but a trey by Goss sparked a 13-5 run to give the Falcons a 42-38 lead by quarter's end.
Fulton was five of 16 from the field, including three of six from long range, while the Panthers were three of nine from the floor and three of four from the charity stripe. Rowan had six points for the Panthers.
Goss scored eight points in an 11-6 run to give the Falcons a 53-44 lead with 3:55 remaining in the contest, but Spence converted two free throws with 3:22 remaining to start a 7-2 spurt to slice the lead to 55-51 with 1:28 remaining in the contest.
Back-to-back turnovers led to a Rowan trey with 56.2 ticks left to slice the gap to 55-54. Matthews stole the ball, but missed a go-ahead trey with 45.7 seconds remaining.
Goss made the front end of a one-plus-one to give his team a 56-54 lead, but Troino tied the game with his two free throws to knot the score at 56-56. That set up the final 33.4 seconds.
The Panthers were 17 of 46 from the field, including eight of 24 from long range, and 14 of 18 from the free throw line, while the Falcons were 22 of 59 from the field, including eight of 16 from beyond the arc, and seven of 11 from the free throw line. The Falcons outrebounded the Panthers 51-19.
Leading the Panthers (22-10) were Gage Spence (eight points), Rowan (19 points, including four of 11 from three-point range), Tyler Yoder (five points), Troino (two points), Brandon Thomas, Simmons (10 points) and Matthews (12 points on four of seven from long range).
The Panthers claimed both the District 4AA regular season and tournament championships in their final school year in the league. Yoder was the district tournament MVP, while teammates Spence, Rowan and Simmons were All-Tournament.
Goss led the Falcons (23-7) with 28 points and 13 rebounds.