NORTH PORT — On a night when nothing was going right for North Port, Emani Jefferson made a layup as time expired to give the Bobcats a 38-37 win over Riverview Wednesday night.
The Rams Maddy Boehm made two free throws with 2:23 to go to give the Rams their first lead of the night and neither team would score again until Jefferson’s last second heroics.
With eight seconds to play, Riverview was inbounding the ball under the North Port basket and tried a long pass to the other end of the court. A Ram player saved the ball just before it went out of bounds, but Jefferson picked it up, drove the length of the court and laid the ball in just before the horn went off.
“I thought we were going to lose,” Jefferson said. “I thought the ball was out and they were going to call it out of bounds on them, but I guess not. So I took it up the court and I made it. I didn’t expect it.”
Jefferson made several steals in the first half but missed the layups at the end of the fast breaks or the game may not have come down to the final play.
“I had to make up for it,” the junior guard said.
“There was nothing drawn up. They were told to foul to stop the clock,” North Port coach Dale Huffman said. “If we get the steal just go to the basket. We were jacking up some threes in the third and fourth quarters that we shouldn’t even have thought about. Then we had three straight turnovers trying to drive to the basket.”
“We just played down at Riverdale last night,” Huffman said. “It was a late night getting back on the bus and we just looked like we were lifeless tonight. The whole game we were just off-kilter a little bit. We’d make a little bit of a run and look like we were about to break out of it and we’d go right back to throwing the ball out of the gym or missing layups.”
The Bobcats led 10-8 at the end of the first quarter and extended the lead to 18-8 in the opening minutes of the second quarter before the Rams closed the gap to 21-16 at halftime.
Three point baskets by Jefferson and Krystal Morales brought the lead back to seven in the third quarter, but the Bobcats shooting went cold and the Rams finally took the lead in the fourth quarter.
“Ugly as it was, I’ll take the win,” Huffman said. “Nobody’s going to remember a week from now how bad that game looked.”
The Bobcats improved the 6-1 on the season while Riverview fell to 1-4.
“I can’t remember the last time we didn’t put 50-60 points on the board,” Huffman said. “It’s been a long time since we got held down like that. And that credit goes to Riverview. They came with intensity and energy tonight and they wanted to beat us and I know how they feel right now. But holey-moley, they came to play tonight and we didn’t.”
Jefferson led all scorers with 20 points while no other Bobcat scored more than four. North Port returns to action Friday night at home against Sarasota and all students wearing an ugly Christmas sweater will get in free.
NORTH PORT 38, RIVERVIEW 37
Riverview 8 8. 12. 9. — 37
North Port. 10. 11. 12 5. — 38
Riverview: Slusarek 10, Dean 9, King 6, Boehm 4, Windsor 4, Ash 2, Nelson 2. Totals: 16(0), 5-7, 37
North Port: Jefferson 20, Nelson 4, Dennard 4, Hall 3, Morales 3, Hand 2, Sawyer 2. Totals: 16(3), 3-6, 38