VIDEO: Boys varsity basketball wins game against Mitchell 37-34

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The varsity boys basketball team stepped onto the court Tuesday against J.W. Mitchell with a lot to gain – and just as much to lose. The scoreboard at the end of the night would decide which team would move another step closer to the Final Four. Win and advance. Lose and go home.
Terriers win 37-34.

As usual, however, the boys kept serious faces after the game because according to senior Bryce Morange the game was a “bad win.” For their past 17 straight wins, the team has focused on the means instead of the outcome.

The mantra was still coach Chris Ward’s “Trust the process” and many players tweeted and repeated the quote before the game, reminding everyone that they’re hard work will pay off. However as the game got tighter and the clock was running out, the boys began to chant “Find a way to win.”

Morange, junior Kenric Montgomery and senior Dexter Stallworth seemed to control the game. The trio scored a total of 14 points in the first half alone and continued to score throughout the second half, padding short-lived leads.

The crowd at Mitchell, in Pasco County, grew more anxious as each second ticked by and both teams sensed it as the scoreboard continually changed tracking point after point. The winner was unpredictable, the pressure palpable and no team kept the lead for very long.

One player feeling the pressure Tuesday night was senior Zach Carter who planned to reach his milestone of 1,000 points for his career.

He stepped onto the court 7 points shy, but with stats to suggest he could secure the goal. Carter averages 11.9 points and 9.1 rebounds a game.

But when halftime came, Carter still hadn’t scored. It wasn’t until the third quarter that Carter became a force on the court, scoring six points. The crowd was in anticipation for his seventh point. Carter attempted to shoot, but the game consisted of a number of consecutive, hasty turnovers – Carter barely had the ball.

He seemed to lose momentum after missing two significant free throws, while the Mustangs picked up steam by scoring yet again. The scoreboard read 30-26 with Mitchell in the lead and hope seemed to dwindle as Carter was forced to sit on the bench.

But then Morange scored, Montgomery scored. Mitchell continually regained their lead, sitting at a risky 32-30 with 2:00 left in the game.

Then, Carter was called back in.

The power forward closed in on Mitchell and the audience began to chant and boo. The scoreboard shifted with Mitchell holding tight to their lead and the Terriers struggling to keep up. Mitchell lead by one point, then two. Then, one again.

There were 30 seconds in the game.

Stallworth took advantage of a small gap and hit the go-ahead shot giving Hillsborough a 35-34 lead – the game winner. (See attached video).

Soon after with Morange’s assist, Carter made a layup that not only reached his 1,000th point goal, but finished the game, allowing the Terriers to progress with the season. The team now holds the opportunity of reaching the Final Four.

While the win matters, there was a silence amongst the team. Similar to past games, the players critiqued how close the final score was and hoped for a larger gap in the future. “We gotta come out stronger the next time,” Morange said.

Meanwhile, Orlando Edgewater beat Deltona 82-51, and the soaring Eagles will fly into Tampa for Friday night.

The winner heads to Lakeland and the Final Four. The loser, like Mitchell on Tuesday, goes home.

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