County Upper Under-19 Elite Boys were unable to find the same rhythm they have shown in recent Academy Basketball League encounters, yet some great character on the buzzer allowed them edge to a 89-88 victory over Gateway College.
Going down by as many as 12 points in the first half, County Upper started the game on the back foot.
However, they fought hard thereafter and were able to pull the game back to within four points, leading by half-time.
With both teams trading baskets to start the third quarter, neither side was able to take full advantage in the game.
Going on a 6-0 run midway through the quarter, CU were able to take a small four-point lead of 56-52, but Gateway found a way back into the game to level the scores, heading into the fourth quarter with 68 points each.
Knowing that whoever won the fourth quarter would win the game, both teams held nothing back as blow for blow they took it in turns to score.
With County Upper unable to lock down Gateway’s top two players, the home team were able to stay in the game.
With the game looking like it was heading into overtime, County Upper fouled Gateway, giving them two free throws with only nine seconds remaining in the game.
With Gateway making both they took a two-point lead with little time left on the clock.
Coach Darren Johnson took a time-out, allowing the ball to progress down the court and into Gateway’s half.
With the set play faltering the ball fell into the hands of Leon Neziri, who with four seconds left in the game, planted his feet behind the three-point line and shot the ball and hit nothing but the net to seal a dramatic victory.
“It was a frustrating game where we just could not seem to click, but what a way to seal the win away from home,” said Johnson.
“I have won and lost games on the buzzer in multiple ways but the emotion never seems to get easier.”
The Under-19s now head to America for their annual tour to play some of the top Junior Colleges in the country.
n Grace Spooner top-scored with 33 points as County Upper Under-14 Girls recorded an 80-33 win over Baddow Eagles.
n Patrick Laycock’s 17-point haul helped County Upper Under-16 Boys beat Southend Swifts 73-36.