Everything was going according to plan for the Ridgeland High School boys basketball team.
The Jaguars were starting to take control over visiting Latta. They held a 10-point lead with just under four minutes to play and looked well on their way to the Class 1-A Lower State semifinals. Things were looking bleak on the Vikings' bench.
Then everything changed.
Latta stormed back with a 13-2 run over the final three-plus minutes before R.J. McClam hit the game-winning shot with 5.6 seconds to play as the Vikings grabbed a thrilling 62-60 win over the Jaguars on Friday night to advance another round in the state playoffs.
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"It felt like this was our year, especially with how we were playing coming down the stretch," Jaguars coach Jeremiah Faber said. "I thought we had a good opportunity to go much deeper into the playoffs."
The Jaguars (15-11) held a 57-47 advantage before the Vikings' comeback began. D.J. Legette netted seven points down the stretch for Latta while Rajit McFadden added two big 3-pointers -- one of which temporarily gave the Vikings (9-12) a one-point advantage.
But after tying things up at 60, the Jaguars still held the ball with a chance to win it on the final possession. Faber told his team to try to wait for the final shot, but instead Torray Amlett opted to drive the lane with 17.8 seconds to go and was fouled. The guard missed both of his free throw attempts, which set up McClam for the winning shot.
"I don't know why Torray took that last shot," Faber said. "He had an opportunity to go the basket. Not knowing the situation. He's an experienced player. He should have read the clock in front of him."
McClam notched his second game-winning bucket in four games for Latta. He also hit a buzzer-beating basket on Feb. 3 in a 52-50 win over Green Sea-Floyds.
It helped continue an improbable run for the Vikings, who entered the playoffs with a 7-12 record. Latta upset top-seeded Murray, 62-58, on Tuesday.
"Our team has been falling apart," McClam said. "People have quit or not come to practice. We just came together as a team, practiced hard and played hard."
Faber was sure to give Latta credit for its improbable victory but was quick to point out the Jaguars' missed opportunites. Ridgeland finished just 19 of 35 from the free throw line, including misses on seven of its last nine attempts.
"The free throw line came back to haunt us tonight," Faber said. "(Amlett) had several opprtunites down the stretch where he could have iced the game for us.
"Free throws have been our Achilles' heel all season. That devil snuck his head up again and grabbed us."
Latta 62, Ridgeland 60
Latta (8-12) -- D.J Legette 20, Donell Stanley 15, Rajit McFadden 9, R.J. McClam 9, Adam Hunt 3, Kortilus McFadden 2, Ty'Sean Burgess 2, Charles McGill
Ridgeland (15-11) -- Torray Amlett 15, Terrance Frazier 14, Charles Mitchell 8, Tyron Mikell 7, Jeremiah Nelson 7, Derrick Solomon 5, Xavier Capers 2, Maurice Dargon 2