Eastside slips past Jones in overtime

Eastside's Kwanne Nichols beats Orlando Jones' Willie Scott to a loose ball during the inaugural Dante Anderson Memorial Tournament Saturday.

JARRETT BAKER/Special to The Sun
Published: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 12:15 a.m.

Eastside boys basketball coach Pop Williams said Dante Anderson would have enjoyed Saturday's five-game event hosted by the Rams.

It's also safe to say that Anderson, the fallen Eastside star who died in a single-car accident on southwest 13th Street eight-and-a-half months ago, would have especially been pleased with the outcome of the day's final game.

Ty Armstrong, a 6-foot-7 center, drained a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation and then sunk a pair of free throws in overtime as the Rams edged Orlando Jones, 50-47 in the nightcap of the inaugural Dante Anderson Memorial Invitational hosted by Eastside and floridaprospects.com.

Anderson was a 6-foot-4 swingman who was named the MVP of the FHSAA Class 5A final four in 2005, when as a sophomore, he led the Rams to their only state championship in basketball.

"This meant a little more, for Dante because this was his day and we wanted to remember him," Williams said. "It turned out really well. I really enjoyed the day."

Prior to the finale, tournament director Robert Sumpter, also the Director of Florida Prospects, spoke briefly about Anderson and also recognized Anderson's mother, Sheila Baker, who was in the stands. Add that Williams was wearing a RIP Dante button on his shirt, while the Rams players donned Anderson's number 22 on their warmup shirts and it was hard not to feel the presence of the former star's spirit.

Anderson also might have helped his former teammates pull out a hard-fought win over Jones, Class 3A's eighth-ranked team. The Tigers (8-4) held a 22-21 halftime lead in the contest, which featured eight ties and 10 lead changes. The Rams (9-5) pulled in front 35-32 after three quarters of play, but faced a three-point deficit in the closing seconds of the final period. But Armstrong, the biggest player on the court, calmly nailed a clutch three-pointer from the top of the key as the buzzer sounded.

In the extra session, he hit two free throws with 8.6 seconds remaining, which provided the eventual final margin. Jonathan Thompson, who lead the Tigers with 13 points, was short on his would-be game-tying three-point attempt in the final seconds.

"We won the game, this was for Dante basically it kind of showed people that we care for him too and we did this for him," said Armstrong, who added that maybe his fallen teammate helped guide in the game-tying shot. "It felt special."

Dennis Mavin had 12 points and eight assists, while Kwanne Nichols added 11 points for Eastside.

While the event ended with an exciting finish, it also started with one as Antonio Brown buried a three-pointer at the buzzer propelling Newberry to a 58-55 win over Coral Gables. Ryan Brown had 16 points to lead the Panthers (6-4), with Julian Karadas netting 16 points for the Cavaliers (8-7).

Deonte Welch poured in a game-high 19 points as Williston dumped Orlando Bishop Moore, 52-46. Devin Timmons scored 12 points for the Red Devils (10-4). The Rock (9-3), behind Trae Mayberry's 12 points and Scottie Wilbekin's 10 points, topped Jacksonville Englewood, 39-26. In the fourth contest of the day, Homestead South Dade, guided by former Eastside assistant coach John Herron, got by Hawthorne 55-43. Ed Stinson had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Buccaneers (10-4). Rodrick Goggins finished with 10 points for the Hornets (8-9).

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