In their fourth and final meeting this season the Paintsville Tigers and Johnson Central Golden Eagles gave fans at the Appalachian Wireless Arena a game to remember for years to come.
Paintsville’s Jaxson Watts left spectators in shock and awe in the final seconds as he took two shots in the game’s final seconds getting the first pinned on the backboard before getting his own rebound and quickly putting the ball into the basket as the overtime buzzer sounded.
The shot electrified Tiger fans as Paintsville claimed the 15th Region title with a 48-46 overtime win against the Golden Eagles.
“It was pure joy man,” said Watts. “Getting that shot is the stuff you sit at home and dream about all week when you go into a tournament like this. That opportunity fell on me and I was blessed for that.”
Before Watts’ shot to send the Tigers to Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen, he and the Tigers had a tough bought with cross-creek rival Johnson Central in their season series finale.
The first quarter was short on scoring but filled with tough defense as the Tigers led the Golden Eagles 10-7 by quarters end.
Johnson Central wouldn’t stay down long though as they took a 17-16 lead with 4:15 left to play in the first half.
By the end of the second quarter the Golden Eagles held a 25-20 lead over the Tigers.
The championship’s third quarter had both the Tigers and Golden Eagles trading buckets all quarter long with Johnson Central able to maintain a 36-32 lead over Paintsville at quarters end.
This drama only heightened with every basket scored in the games fourth quarter.
The Tigers outscored the Golden Eagles 14-10 in the quarter with two last second free throws by Paintsville’s Colby Fugate tying the game at 46.
Overtime had both teams scrambling to get a bucket while also looking to milk the clock to the point that the other team didn’t have time to strike back.
After a Johnson Central turnover the Tigers had started their first possession of overtime and had the ball in Colby Fugate’s hands.
Fugate put up a shot with nine seconds on the clock from the left elbow that bounced off the side of the rim and into the hands of Watts.
Johnson Central’s John King thwarted Watts’ first attempt.
Watts’ second was just off the side of the rim.
Watts’ final attempt went in as the buzzer sounded when the ball left his fingers.
The shot gave Paintsville the 48-46 win over the Golden Eagles and punched their ticket to Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen State Tournament.
“Thirteen years is a long time,” said Tigers head coach Landon Slone. “This is my fifth year here and I feel like we have been working at this for a long time. We have spent all season talking about this, going to Rupp Arena and having a chance to win a couple games down there and building our program that way. These guys have done it the right way and it has taken some time for us, but I think these seniors and the seniors last year have really set the standard for us.”
Paintsville- Colby Fugate 26, Baron Ratliff 9, Connor Fugate 8, Braxton Tharp 3, Jaxson Watts 2.
Johnson Central- Cory VanHoose 15, Ryleh McKenzie 8, Connor Lemaster 8, Grant Rice 7, Isaiah May 4, John King 4.