CANTON: Canton Timken had just watched Barberton’s Joshua Williams knock down a 3-pointer to tie the score.
After a Timken basket, it was again Williams with the ball and a chance to make another clutch basket to tie or win.
But not if Randee Reed could help it.
Williams dribbled until there were three seconds left, pulled up from the same spot where he just made his last shot and Reed blocked it to preserve the Trojans’ 38-36 win in a Division I district final at the Canton Civic Center on Saturday night.
“I knew I had to do it for the team,” said Reed, a junior forward. “I just sat down, waited for him to shoot and played good D. I was happy to get the block.”
Williams, who led all scorers with 17 points, was instrumental in a 17-7 fourth-quarter run that got the Magics (19-6) back in the game. He scored eight of the Magics’ 17 points that quarter, including the 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining to tie it. It was the first tie since late in the first quarter.
After the 3-pointer and a timeout, freshman guard Lepear Toles came up with an even bigger shot for the Trojans (16-9), answering with a pull-up jumper off the dribble with 30 seconds remaining that wound up being the game-winner.
“I just wanted to knock it down,” Toles said. “I tried to stay calm, make a move and get to the elbow to knock it down. That’s the shot I practice all the time.”
Toles, the only freshman on the roster, has been huge in the clutch for the Trojans in the tournament.
“We were calling for the last shot, but he’s that kind of player where he saw an opportunity and took it himself,” Timken coach Rick Hairston said. “He made the game-winning free throws against both Copley and Jackson and now he hits the game-winner in this one. I would say for a freshman that’s pretty clutch stuff.”
A defensive battle down to the end, a key to the Trojans’ success was containing Magics senior guard Scott Sabol, one of the best 3-point shooters in Ohio. Sabol scored six points on two field goals.
“The plan was to be close enough to Sabol and [senior guard Nate] Painter that if they caught the ball we could kiss them if we wanted to,” Hairston said. “We defended them all the way out to the 3-point line, NBA style.”
With the outside shot not available to them, the Magics became one-dimensional with Williams being their only consistent source of offense.
“Throughout the year as teams had really worked to take him [Sabol] away, it’s created open opportunities inside,” Barberton coach Ken Rector said. “Tonight we just didn’t convert on those opportunities.”
Senior forward Chris Cook led the Trojans with 11 points and seven rebounds. Toles also finished with 11 points.
Timken advances to a regional semifinal against top-ranked Columbus Northland at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Columbus Fairgrounds.
“Since nobody thought we would make it to this point, we’re going to roll on down to Columbus and let the chips fall where they may,” Hairston said. “We’re not going to be intimidated, we’re just going to prepare like we’ve been preparing and see what we can do when we get down there.”
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