South Grand Prairie senior guard Ben Emelogu notched the final of his game-high 13 points on a free throw with 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter.
That foul shot proved to be the decisive score in the Warriors’ 35-33 come-from-behind victory against Hebron in the Class 5A Region I final Saturday at Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center.
South Grand Prairie (36-3) advances to the state tournament in Austin for the first time since 1975. The Warriors lost the regional final by a point last season.
“My coaches and teammates kept reminding me of the pain of losing last year,” said Emelogu, who scored eight points in the second half to key the SGP rally. “That motivated me.”
A layup by Warriors guard Mark Howell (10 points) tied the score at 33-33 with a little more than two minutes to go. SGP hadn’t led since Emelogu’s jumper early in the first quarter made it 2-0. But Emelogu changed that with just over a minute to go in the game.
He was fouled while attempting a short jumper, drawing a trip to the line. Emelogu’s first foul shot bounced out. But the second attempt swished through for a 34-33 lead.
Trey Hall then made the front end of a one-and-one with 44.1 seconds left to extend the SGP lead to 35-33. Hebron senior point guard Ridge Shipley missed a contested 3-pointer with less than five seconds remaining that could have decided the game.
“These guys are so resilient,” SGP coach Brandon Bennett said. “When they get down, they don’t quit.”
The Hawks (36-3) made five 3-pointers in the first half, including one by 6-foot-8 junior post Connor McClenaghan (eight points) to extend their lead to 20-9 in the first minute of the second quarter.
Hebron went on a prolonged scoring drought from that point. The Hawks did not score again until a 3-pointer by Chad Rehfuss splashed in with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
The Hawks, who did not connect on a 3-pointer in the second half, scored 17 points in the first quarter but only 16 over the final three quarters combined.
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