MONROE— It was appropriate that on Senior Night that a senior would come up with the plays of the game to lead his team to victory.
Alex Byerly went from would-be goat to hero in the final seconds Tuesday night to give Adams Central a thrilling 53-52 non-conference win over Southwood as he not only stopped what appeared was going to be an easy Southwood lay-up but then knocked down the game-winning free throw with 5.2 seconds to play.
Southwood had led the majority of the game, including a 13-point edge in the second period at 24-11, but the Jets brought in their long-range artillery in the third period hitting 15 of their 17 points in the stanza from behind the three-point line (the other points were free throws by Blade Kable) and a trey with 1:45 to go in the third by Hayden Black gave the Jets their first advantage of the night at 41-39.
A cat-and-mouse final period saw Southwood's Jackson Blair open with a trey for the final Knight lead of the game at 42-41 but the Jets were never able to pull away with their largest lead being four at 48-44 and 50-46.
"We were sitting on a four-point lead with less than a minute to play so all we had to do was make our free throws and take care of the ball," noted AC coach Aaron McClure.
However, the best plans don't always work out and Blair made AC fans squirm as his three-ball went in with :28 to play for a 50-49 tally. Within the next six-tenths of a second, Southwood called timeout and then quickly fouled Black, another Adams Central senior, and he calmly drained both ends of a one-and-one to put the Jets back up by three.
Corey Phillipy answered the call for Southwood, however, as he nailed a trey nine seconds later and suddenly it was 52-52.
Then it got really interesting.
Byerly was handling the ball for the Jets with about 10 seconds to go but had the ball stolen by Southwood. Byerly was the only AC player between the Knight player and the basket and he came up with a huge defensive play by knocking the ball away and alertly grabbed it with 5.2 ticks left.