Buzzer-beating basket gives Forest Park storybook ending 8-15 Foresters top off their playoff run, 43-41

Class 1A boys basketball

March 15, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- With his team tied at 43 against Class 1A state championship rival Pocomoke, Forest Park senior Shawn Waller called timeout with 8.1 seconds to play.

When play resumed, Waller (14 points, nine rebounds) found Donnell Dobbins, who dribbled to his right-side baseline, got around the Warriors' 6-foot-7 Mirko Humbert in the paint and dished the ball to Jamie Higginbotham for a buzzer-beating turnaround jumper and a 45-43 victory at the University of Maryland's Cole Field House.

Higginbotham was mobbed by his Forest Park teammates, who capped an 8-15 season that included winning only two games in the difficult city league. Higginbotham, among Foresters' tallest

players at 6-2, scored only four points but led all rebounders with 11 (seven in the first half).

"That was a great play by Donnell. And I needed that, because I hadn't been hitting anything all game. I had been playing terrible," said Higginbotham.

Forest Park entered the game having lost by respectable margins, for example, to 2A state champion Dunbar by 12 points, 3A finalist City by three and Lake Clifton by two, a fact Waller said contributed to yesterday's win.

"We've come so close to beating good teams in the city that we knew we'd be in good position to win," Waller said. "But right now, this is just unbelievable. I can't tell you how I feel because it hasn't hit me yet."

Waller, Chris Hurst (10 points, five rebounds) and 5-5 Dolphus Dixon (12 points) led the way for the Foresters, who had a 43-38 advantage in rebounding despite the presence of Pocomoke players such as Humbert and 6-5 Tim Corbin, each of whom grabbed six rebounds. Even 5-9 Dobbins (seven rebounds) had more success than the two tallest players for the Warriors (21-7).

"Everybody, different players, stepped up all over, which is something to be proud of. We didn't make too many free throws though," said coach Greg Warren, referring to his Foresters' 3-for-13 effort at the line. "But we hung in there, rebounding, even though we got banged around a little. We played through it, rose above it."

Pocomoke was led by Josh Hickman's game-high 16 points. Hickman tied the game at 32 on a three-pointer with 5: 40 left to play. Down by five, Hickman sank four straight free throws to bring Pocomoke within 42-41 with 54 seconds to go.

Teammate Lynel Wise (12 points) tied the game at 43 with a couple free throws.

But with 26.5 seconds to go, the Foresters got their game-winning possession as a Pocomoke player dribbled out of bounds near the Warriors' bench.

"They had the height, but as hard as they'd play, we just tried to go that much harder," said Dixon, the shortest player on the court.

Forest Park led, 16-13, after one period and 26-22 at halftime, as Hurst scored six of his points in the first quarter and was tied with Waller with 10 points in the half.

The Foresters pressed more late in the first period and were able to convert often off transition steals by Waller (five steals) or Hurst (four). The thefts led to a 6-1 run to start the second period, including two consecutive driving layups by Waller -- both over Humbert -- for a 22-14 lead.

"Coach [Warren] always says if the other team makes a run, you make a bigger run," Waller said.

Neither team scored in the third period until Wise brought his team within 26-24 with 4: 11 left. It was 26-25 on a free throw by Wise after Hurst went to the bench with his fourth foul. Consecutive layups by Wise had his team up, 27-26 and 29-28, with two minutes left in the period.

But Dixon answered similarly for Forest Park, his four points getting the Foresters a 32-29 lead 1: 20 before the fourth. Forest Park was 0-for-4 at the free-throw line in the third quarter, after which they led, 32-29.

"I had to root for my team from the bench, but they were able to pull it out," said Hurst. "People judged us by our record and our height, but you have to look at our heart. Our motto is 'Get 'em outta there,' and we came in here and we shocked the world."

FOREST PARK -- Higginbotham 4, Dobbins 3, Hurst 10, Dixon 12, Waller 14, Smith 2. Totals 21 3-13 45.

POCOMOKE --- Holden 8, Humbert 2, Hickman 16, Wise 12, Davis 5. Totals 18 9-15 43.

Half: FP, 26-22.

Pub Date: 3/15/98

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