In a thrilling battle, Hampton came up on the wrong end of a buzzer-beater.
University High took a 62-60 victory over the Bulldogs in the District 1-A Championship game after the Bucs’ Kaleb Meredith scored with 0.3 seconds remaining to lift UH to the win.
Hampton will move on to host their opening Region 1-A tournament game on Saturday against Hancock County.
The title game proved to be a classic from the opening tip.
Matt Hughes and Rocky Croy hit early buckets for the Bulldogs to give HHS a 4-0 lead, but UH reeled off 11 of the next 13 points scored to take an 11-6 advantage. Hampton battled back as Croy hit back-to-back shots, and then Morgan Lyons did the same as part of an 11-0 Hampton run.
UH, however, used back-to-back 3-pointers – including a deep Meredith trey at the buzzer – to tie the game at 17-17 going to the second.
The Bucs continued the run they started in the closing seconds of the first by scoring the next 10 points to push the lead to 10 points. Hughes and Croy each hit a 3-pointer in the closing minutes of the half to trim the deficit to six points at the break.
In the third quarter, Hampton continued to battle back.
Garrett Vines hit a key 3-pointer while Oaks took over inside to pull HHS within a possession. A quick Buc run gave UH a 7-0 run, but Hampton ended the quarter with six points in the final 30 seconds to pull within one point after three complete quarters.
Hughes opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to push Hampton into the lead, and the teams traded shots throughout the quarter. The Bulldogs held a 53-52 advantage after a Croy 3-pointer with just over two minutes to play, and the teams swapped the lead into the final seconds.
After Oaks gave Hampton a one-point lead with 32.4 seconds remaining, Hampton added a Croy free throw the next trip down. UH, however, jumped back into the lead as Meredith drained a 3-pointer with 10.6 seconds left.
Hampton pushed the ball up court after a timeout, and Hughes was fouled and sent to the line where he knocked down one of two free throws tying the game at 60-60. That set the stage for Meredith covered the length of the court and shot in between Hampton defenders to give the Bulldogs the win.
Croy finished with 19 points to lead the way for Hampton, while Oaks added 13 points. Hughes scored 10 points in the game for the Bulldogs.
Meredith led UH with 30 points – none as important as his game-winner which was also his 2,000th career point.
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