POCA - The last time Poca and Scott met on this court, the Dots got a little late-game magic to trip the Skyhawks in the regular season. This time, however, Scott got a little payback.Senior guard Matt Dolan calmly knocked down a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds left Wednesday night, giving the Skyhawks a 53-52 upset victory in a Class AA Region 4 co-final before a capacity crowd.The win sends the unranked Skyhawks (15-10) into next week's state tournament at the Civic Center. They'll have to wait until Saturday to find out their opponent in the March 14 quarterfinals. Scott reached the title game in 2011 before losing to Oak Hill."After going 7-16 last year,'' said Scott coach Nick Cabell, "to make it back to the state tournament starting three sophomores and having only one senior on our roster, it says a lot for our team and the coaching staff I have around me.''
The Dots (18-7), ranked No. 6 in the state, seemed to have thwarted the Skyhawks again in the closing seconds.Trailing 51-50, Poca got the ball to Adam Sigman in the left corner for a 3-pointer that missed, but Cam Cottrill wrested the rebound away and found Noah Frampton cutting the basket for a layup and a one-point lead with eight seconds left. Scott called a timeout with 5.8 seconds on the clock and had to travel the length of the floor.The Skyhawks inbounded to Dolan dashing around a screen in the backcourt and he dribbled furiously into the frontcourt. He tried to split a pair of Poca defenders at the top of the foul lane - Frampton and Cottrill - but fell to the floor and a foul was whistled on Cottrill."We tried to set up something in the backcourt,'' Cabell said, "because with his speed and the ball, I would rather go the length of the court rather than having it at halfcourt. We tried to get it to him early to try and beat most of the defense down, especially if they were having fullcourt pressure. And when that guy cut him off at his leg, well, I knew he's one of our better free-throw shooters. He's our only senior. I wouldn't want anyone else taking those last two shots.''
Dolan was true on both attempts, providing the third and final lead change in the last 28 seconds."The option at the end was get me the ball,'' Dolan said. "That was it. Get me the ball and let me make a play. I was going to the hole. That's exactly what I thought, right off the bat."I practice my free throws. I shoot at least 200 a day. I mean, my team needed me at that moment, and I thought I needed to do it.''All Poca could manage after that was to have Matt Chandler fire a halfcourt pass to Frampton, who got off a heave that was right on line, but smacked the front of the rim.
"We didn't get some stops when we needed them at the end of the game,'' said Poca coach Allen Osborne."We made a defensive error there [on Dolan's dash upcourt]. We let him catch the ball going toward the rim. He's got to catch it going back, but we let him catch it going toward the rim. Obviously it's a big play and you've got to give Scott credit. They made the plays when they had to make them.''The Skyhawks trailed virtually the entire way and were down by nine points at 42-33 with about 41/2 minutes to go. But they began to gain ground when the Dots went hit-and-miss at the foul line, splitting their first eight attempts in the fourth quarter.
When Scott's Cody Brown (who scored nine of his 14 points in the final period) swished a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left, the lead was down to 50-49 and the Skyhawks employed a trapping defense.Poca's Sigman tried to step through a double-team just inside the halfcourt line, but fell and was called for traveling at the 37-second mark."You want to call it a fall, you can call it a fall,'' Osborne said, "but he was knocked down. That's what it was.''Scott capitalized when Dolan made a pair at the line with 28 seconds left, giving his team a 51-50 lead and setting the stage for Frampton's late layup and possible game-clincher.Interestingly, the roles were reversed from the teams' Jan. 11 game at Poca, when Dolan hit a jumper in the foul lane with 1.5 seconds left to give Scott a 39-38 lead. After a timeout, Chandler whipped a length-of-the-floor pass to Frampton, who sank a shot from just off the foul line at the buzzer for a 40-39 win."One thing you never want to see is Poca,'' Cabell said, "because of their hard-nosed defense. With Coach Osborne, they're one of the best-coached teams in the state. We knew we'd have their halfcourt man [defense] in our face.''
Dolan, a sophomore starter on the 2011 state tournament team, led Scott on Wednesday with 16 points. The Skyhawks had 18 turnovers - 12 in the first half - but balanced it by shooting 63 percent (19 of 30).Frampton (19 points) and Cottrill (11) led the Dots, who trailed 22-21 in rebounds."Our kids battled all year,'' Osborne said, "worked hard and had a great attitude. It's one of the more enjoyable years I've had as a coach. You'd like to win championships to be champions, but those kids in there are champions.''