“When I let it go, I felt like it was going to go in ... and it did. It was crazy. I couldn’t believe it went in, so I’m happy now,” said Jas’Juan Rosario.
Chris Harris was the defensive star of the game and he saw it differently. “To be honest, I was a little scared. He’s kind of tilted a little bit and I said ‘please make this’ and it went in ... and I was just so happy.”
They were talking about the three-pointer from the corner that gave the JV Bulldogs a 51-49 win over Frostproof on Senior Night. The thing that made it even better was that Rosario hadn’t made a three-pointer throughout the entire game but felt confident enough to fire it up with just four seconds left on the clock.
The southpaw said, “I had missed every one that I tried tonight, but I knew I could make it.”
DeSoto took a 14-7 lead after the first period, but were outscored 22-8 in the second period to trail 29-22 at the break. Frostproof lead by as many as nine points, with the majority of the damage being done by Frostproof’s eighth-grader AJ Cobb. The big man scored 15 of the team’s 22 second-period points.
The Bulldogs were missing two of their big men, though, one to an injury and the other to a DeSoto Fair commitment. They could have shut Cobb down, but he took over the boards and dominated the game in the paint as the Bulldogs tried unsuccessfully to stop him.
DeSoto came out of the break with a nice 7-0 run to tie the game and a strategy to stop Cobb. Harris, who stood several inches shorter than Cobb, played him closer than paint on a parkbench.
“Nobody was able to guard number 15 (Cobb) because he was so big, but I didn’t see his height,” Harris said. “I just took the opportunity to guard him so we could stop him and come back to win the game.”
Harris held Cobb to just two points in the second half, a freethrow in each period was all he could come up with against Harris. Once Harris fouled out of the game with 2:45 left to play, Antonio Watson took over and continued to stymie Cobb. Watson fouled out with 1:17 left to play and the Bulldogs up by just three points, Chris Sanders finished what Harris and Watson had started.
DeSoto led by two going into the final frame. There were plenty of big shots to go around. Jaheiman Hillard hit another of his patented three-pointers from the corner to break the 37-all tie. Garrett Leath drove to the hoop for another two points and Tony Blanding had a layup to complete the 7-0 DeSoto run to give the Bulldogs a 44-37 lead.
Frostproof kept coming back like a broke cousin. They tied the game at 46 with exactly one minute to play. Blanding’s jumper gave DeSoto the lead 48-46, but Frostproof hit a trey to give them a 49-48 lead with 11 seconds left. That set the stage for Rosario’s game-winner.
Blanding led the Bulldogs with 18, Watson had 11 with Hillard at eight and Rosario adding seven more points.
An emotional coach Joe Davis thanked the players after the game for a very good season.
He said, “You grew up tonight. You found a way to win. You played together and worked as a team. Everyone did their part, you knew what your roles were in the game and you did it. When the bell rings after school next week, I won’t know what to do. I am going to miss not being here with you in the gym. Thank you for this season. I’m so proud of all of you.”
Sometimes a coach will tell a team that everyone contributed to the win, but the players think of just the scoring leaders as being the ones who led the team to the win. It was important to have every single point that the Bulldogs earned, that’s for sure.
In the locker room Harris’ teammates were slapping him on the back and congratulating him for a great defensive game. He was just as big of a hero as Rosario who made the game-winning shot.
How many points did Harris score? None. He made his contribution on defense ... and that’s what wins games too.