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Wolves sunk at buzzer

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Wesleyan's Wes Caver (12) tries to score as Richmond Academy's Desmond Lofland, left, and Christian Nobles (3) try to block his shot on Wednesday.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Wesleyan's Wes Caver (12) tries to score as Richmond Academy's Desmond Lofland, left, and Christian Nobles (3) try to block his shot on Wednesday.

SUWANEE -- After escaping on a missed last-second shot by its opponent against North Gwinnett in Tuesday's game, fate took a different turn for Wesleyan's boys on Wednesday night.

Trailing by a point with less than 30 seconds left to play, Richmond Academy made the most of its last possession as Tommy Williams put back on an offensive rebound barely beat the buzzer to give the Musketeers a thrilling 66-65 win in the finals of the Jared Cook Holiday Classic at North Gwinnett.

"You've got to give them all the credit," Wesleyan head coach Skip Matherly said. "They are a final four AAAA team from last year and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them get that far again this year. It was all fight (Wednesday) night because we were down by 10 points for most of the game and the heart that our kids showed was tremendous."

Richmond Academy's final shot erased a gritty comeback by the Wolves as Wesleyan didn't take its first lead until 1:40 left to play when Wes Caver, who led all players with 24 points, hit his sixth 3-pointer of the night to put his team up 65-64.

Richmond Academy, now winners of nine straight, couldn't score on the ensuing possession and the Wolves took over with just under a minute to play.

Wesleyan (9-4) brought the ball down the court and worked it around the perimeter before calling a timeout with just over 30 seconds remaining.

The Wolves were able to get ball in bounds after the timeout but the Musketeers trapped Andrew Frerking and knocked the ball out of his hands and off his knee for the turnover.

That gave Richmond Academy one more possession with 26.6 seconds left. After working the clock down to under 10 seconds, tournament MVP Desmond Lofland made a drive to the basket from the right side but missed.

Another Musketeer was able to tip the ball back up again but his shot caromed over to the weak side where Williams was waiting for the last-second tip in.

"This tournament was about getting us ready for January so I have no qualms with how things went (Wednesday) night," Matherly said. "We are going to be put in these situations again and now I know we can play with anybody. It still hurts to lose but there was an upside to tonight."

Wesleyan entered the tournament finals with 19 3-point shots over the first two games, but couldn't find its long-range stroke in the first half as the Wolves were just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Those misses helped the Musketeers steadily build their lead during the first half that stretched between eight and 12 points with the score at the half being 30-22.

Caver was able to jump start the Wesleyan offense in the third quarter when he finally found the touch from outside, hitting a trio of 3-pointers as the Wolves scored 25 points in the period.

But Richmond Academy also found its offense and added to its lead with 26 points in the period. Lofland, who finished with 19 points, scored 12 of those in the third, while Raston Brown, whose night ended with 17 points, added nine more in the third.

Caver continued his good work on offense in the fourth with eight more points while Griffin Schamp, who was named to the all-tournament team, added eight of his 19 points in the fourth the help bring the Wolves back.

"We've grown up a lot in this tournament and we've played good basketball for most of it," Matherly said. "Come February, I think we're going to be a load to deal with."