With 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, the public address announcer inside Tommy Thomas Gymnasium told the crowd that Sherman had lost to McKinney North.
Sherman’s loss meant that The Colony – regardless if the Cougars won or lost Tuesday against Prosper Rock Hill – clinched a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive season. But, The Colony was determined to finish the regular season on a high note.
Thanks to junior Grayson Ryan, the Cougars will carry momentum into the postseason.
Ryan buried the go-ahead corner 3-pointer with 10 seconds left and junior Omani Ozenne stole a pass that bounced off the foot of a Rock Hill player in the game’s final seconds to give the Cougars a 50-48 victory.
Coming into the game, The Colony (12-12 overall, 8-5 District 10-5A) led over Sherman (12-12, 6-7) by one game for the final playoff berth in 10-5A. Either a loss by the Bearcats or a win by the Cougars would advance The Colony into the playoffs. The Cougars took care of business on their home court.
“Like I’ve been telling the guys, I don’t want to put our destiny into anybody’s hands,” said Joe Wilson, The Colony assistant coach. “We went there and took care of business. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys.”
Rock Hill (16-6, 10-4), which is bound for the playoffs in just the school’s first year of existence, rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 48-47 lead on a layup by senior Darren Eubanks.
Eubanks poured in 21 points to pace the Blue Hawks.
But, Ryan liked his team’s chances to pull off a last-second win. The Colony lost to Rock Hill, 57-56, Jan. 30, which was the fourth game in as many days for the Cougars. Ryan returned the favor Tuesday.
“I knew that we needed a quick bucket right there,” Ryan said. “As soon as I caught the ball, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going in.’ I knew that we needed it, so I was happy to come through for my team.”
The Colony pulled off the win despite having East Carolina signee Tay Mosher watch all but a few minutes of the second half from the bench. He scored 20 of his game-high 23 points in the first half. But, Wilson wanted to see how his Cougars would perform without their star forward on the court.
“At the end of the day, I wanted these guys to come together,” Wilson said. “We wanted to get it done without him. It’s going to help us in the playoffs. They grew up there a little bit.”
Prior to tip off, The Colony allowed senior Seth McCawley to get in one final shot on his home court. He wasn’t present last Thursday for senior night.
Before the game clock started Tuesday, Mosher won the tip and passed the ball to senior Caden Sclafani. Sclafani made a pass to Ryan. Ryan converted a bounce pass to McCawley, who made a jump shot. McCawley was then mobbed by his teammates.
The Colony will play Frisco Wakeland (21-3) in the bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs. The Wolverines defeated the Cougars, 65-48, Nov. 13.
“Anything can happen in the playoffs,” Wilson said. “We faced them our first game. We’re a different team. They’re a totally different team.”