Dallas Roosevelt defenders took away his first option, so with his team down by one, Philip Walker improvised.
The Decatur senior stepped inside the right elbow of the free-throw line and drained the 12-footer with nine seconds left to give the Eagles a 45-44 victory over Roosevelt in the Class 3A Region II area game Friday at Southlake Carroll Senior High School gym.
“I don’t even know what happened,” said Philip Walker, who finished with 10 points. “It was supposed to be a set play to get [Austin] Givens a shot. They double-teamed Givens. When my guy left me, I got an open look and hit it.
“We were able to get back on defense to protect the lead.”
After Ladarin Choice of Roosevelt clanked a runner off the back of the rim at the buzzer, Walker’s teammates mobbed him in celebration.
Decatur lost to Roosevelt last year in the area round.
“I’m just proud of them and the way they fought,” said Decatur coach Drew Coffman.
With the win, Decatur moves on to play Frisco Lone Star in the region quarterfinal. Lone Star upset fourth-ranked Triple A Academy 59-58 Friday.
The Eagles trailed the entire fourth quarter until Walker’s shot. They were down four heading into the final frame, 38-34, and trailed by as many as six in the final quarter.
Coffman switched the Eagles’ defense to a 1-3-1 with senior Cain Lowe playing up top at the start of the fourth quarter. The Eagles limited Roosevelt to six points and forced eight turnovers in the final frame.
“We’ve run it maybe five times all year,” Coffman said. “When you’ve got kids who believe in themselves, they are going to do it. They wanted it and made plays.
“I know our guys. Whenever it’s a big game, they are going to fight tooth and nail. That’s what we had to do tonight, and they got the job done.”
Along with stepping up the defense in the fourth quarter, the Eagles needed big shots and to keep control of the basketball. Decatur struggled with turnovers the entire night, committing 26.
The team even dropped the area championship trophy after the game.
But in the fourth quarter, Decatur had only two turnovers.
With 3:10 remaining, Paul Walker drained a 3-pointer to pull the Eagles within one, 42-41. After Roosevelt stretched the lead back to three, Givens made it a one-point game with a putback with 1:09 left.
Roosevelt’s Choice missed a free throw with 35.9 left with the chance to stretch the lead out. On the night, Roosevelt went 6-for-16 at the line.
Looking to take the lead, Decatur’s Paul Walker was called for traveling with 13.5 left. On the inbound play, a whistle was blown as Lowe and a Roosevelt player collided. An official originally called a block on Lowe, then after consulting with another official, called an offensive foul.
That call gave Philip Walker the opportunity to knock down the game-winner.
“It was big shot by a senior who wanted to keep playing,” Coffman said. “He was in foul trouble most of the night but made the play when the opportunity was there.”
Decatur jumped out to a 14-5 lead to start the game as Givens drained three 3-pointers in the game’s first six minutes. He finished with 14 points.
With a 15-3 run, Roosevelt took a 19-17 lead midway through the second quarter on a 3-pointer by Choice. He led the Mustangs with 15 points. Decatur responded by ending the half on an 8-2 run of its own. A 12-footer by Lowe sent the Eagles into the locker room with a 25-21 lead.
Decatur went up eight less than two minutes into the third, but it didn’t last long. The Eagles managed only five points over the final 6:11 of the quarter as Roosevelt went on a 17-5 run to take its four-point lead going into the fourth.