Antonio Nelson hit three consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and the fifth-ranked Wolverines stormed back from an 11-point deficit to beat No. 1 Lee-Huntsville57-55 in the Class 6A state championship game at Legacy Arena at the BJCC.
Lee (27-7) had two chances to win it late, but the Generals missed a layup with 13 seconds left, then turned it over with six seconds remaining.
Carver (29-4) trailed by 11, 38-27, at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter. Nelson caught fire, hitting his first 3-pointer with 5:49 left in the game, and his final trey cut the deficit to one, 43-42, with 4:36 left.
"At the beginning of the game, we were playing passive," Jackson said. "Lee was attacking. We knew it was coming. We wanted to match their spirit with ours, and we didn't. And that allowed them to get off to a great start and get the ball rolling faster. We kept saying, after a while we've got to start playing basketball. Everything settles in. I thought we turned it up in the second half and they weren't really aggressive enough to turn it up with us."
Lee's hopes of pulling out the victory took a severe blow when senior standout Gerron Scissum fouled out with 2:31 left in the game and the score tied 46-46. The 6-toof-8 forward, who led the Generals in scoring and rebounding at the time he fouled out, routinely handles the ball.
""We had to ask some guys to handle it that don't handle as much," said Lee coach Greg Brown, whose team committed 26 turnovers, 14 of which were in the second half. "When Scissum went out of the game, it caused us to stumble a little bit. We didn't realize that he had five fouls. Naturally, when your leader leaves the floor, it brings about a change."
Malik Burnett's 12 points led Lee, which was seeking its first state title since beating Carver in the 2010 5A finals. The Generals have been the state runner-up three times since 2011.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson, a member of Carver's 2012 hoops title team, was on hand to watch.
-- Star of the game: Alabama signee Brandon Austin stepped up his game in the second half and finished with 20 points, five rebounds and five steals to earn tournament MVP honors.
"I saw the team was getting down, " he said. "I had to put them on my back and take them to where they needed to be."
-- By The Numbers: 25 - Points off turnovers for Carver; 24 - Free throws made by Carver on 32 attempts; 28 - Percent shooting by Carver (14 of 50); 11 - rebounds by Carver's Joseph Strugg, a Mississippi State signee.
-- Quotable: "This was a big one for our guy Marlon," Jackson, referring to reserve forward Marlon Davidson, who's mother passed away earlier this week.
"I was in a good zone. I had to step up because my teammates weren't on. It was the fourth quarter, the ball was in my hands, so I had to do what I had to do," -- Nelson
"I think it was a lack of execution. We weren't quite patient in the presses. What can you say?It was just one of those days where we were a little too loose with the ball against the press. I didn't anticipate being that loose, but players are players, kids are kids. You can never predict how they'll respond." -- Brown on the turnovers
"I think they'll be fine next year. They'll probably have a better team than this year. This year, we had the closest team that I've been on since I've been here. I think they'll be good." -- Scissum
Daniel Boyette covers Huntsville region high school sports for The Alabama Media Group and The Huntsville Times. Write to him at email@example.com.