Thomas' 47 helps Buchholz girls move on
Published: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 11:51 p.m.
VIERA — Buchholz High School girls basketball coach Rebecca Williams told her players before Saturday night's Class 7A regional final that no matter what happened against the Viera Hawks, they had to fight to the end.
And because they did, the Bobcats are going back to the state semifinals.
Jessica Thomas scored 47 points, and hit three free throws with 2.1 seconds left to send the game into overtime as Buchholz rallied from three points down in the closing seconds of regulation to beat Viera 84-79.
Buchholz (26-4) will face Tampa Freedom in the state semifinals. Freedom knocked off defending state champion Sebastian River 74-73 Saturday night.
Trailing 75-72 with 5.6 seconds remaining in regulation, Buchholz looked to be in danger with Viera inbounding the ball.
However, the Hawks turned the ball over, giving the Bobcats the ball with 5.2 seconds remaining.
Thomas, who hit seven 3-pointers on the night — including three in a row to start the fourth quarter — was fouled by Viera's top player, Dee Anderson, with 2.1 seconds left. It was Anderson's fifth foul, and Thomas hit all three free throws to tie the game.
Buchholz then outscored the Hawks 9-4 in overtime.
The Bobcats got some clutch play from their freshman trio. Keona Thompson had 11 points and six rebounds. Chelsea Clark had several big steals. And Anya Noble played well down the stretch.
“My freshmen played so big,” Williams said. “Chelsea Clark and Anya Noble, she stepped up for us big time. I always tell them, ‘We can't just leave it all on Jessica.' Everybody's got to do their part, and tonight, I think everybody did.”