Quin Jackson’s putback put Anniston up 47-45 with 3.8 seconds left, and Roc Green’s long 3-pointer rolled off the rim at the buzzer to end a dramatic, climactic county quarterfinal.
Second-seeded Anniston (14-6) advanced to tonight’s 5:30 p.m. semifinal against No. 3 seed Alexandria, and Saks fell to 11-6 in a game that came down to three tense possessions.
“I thought it was going to go in,” Green, who led Saks with 15 points, said about his 30-footer at the buzzer. “It just went in and out.”
Anniston’s game-winning possession started after Bulldogs’ coach Schuessler Ware called timeout with 40.6 seconds left, with the game tied 45-45.
The Bulldogs ran the clock down to 10 seconds, and Demarcus Thomas attempted to drive from the left side. Saks’ Daniel Heard came over to help and blocked Thomas’ shot, but Jackson was there for his 11th and most decisive rebound of the game.
“I just saw Demarcus crashing to the boards,” said Jackson, who finished with six points. “I had a feeling that the ball was going to pop out or something, and I just grabbed it and took the shot.”
Saks had a chance to make the go-ahead basket before that. After a timeout with 1:29 left, the Wildcats ran about 40 seconds off the clock before Green ran into trouble on the left side.
Thomas got a hand on the ball, and Green dribbled off his leg out of bounds with 48 seconds to play.
“We were actually going to try to play,” Saks coach Jonathan Miller said. “We took a shot, got an offensive rebound and pulled it back out and started to run some clock.
“We were going to take a shot if we had something good, and we just had an unfortunate turnover there.”
The dramatic ending capped a breakout fourth quarter for both teams after what had been a defensive struggle. Anniston led 6-4 after one quarter, but Saks led 18-9 at halftime. It was 25-25 after three quarters.
Jackson and Green said it was defense, but both coaches saw nerves in a rivalry game that Green described as “down the street.”
“We couldn’t hit anything,” Ware said. The Bulldogs shot 36 percent (14-for-38) from the floor. “If we were more relaxed, then we could have hit more outside shots.”
Both teams came out blazing in the fourth quarter.
Green hit two 3-pointers right away to put Saks up 31-25. Then Saks’ Darion Coleman and Anniston’s Quinterious Croft exchanged treys to make it 34-28.
Anniston’s Qua Frazier hit a long 3-pointer to tie it at 38-38 with 4:20 to play, and the tone was set for a classic finish.
Coleman finished with 12 points. Frazier and Quint Dobbins had 13 points apiece for Anniston, which now eyes Alexandria.
“We’ve just got to come out more focused and stop playing down to everybody else’s level,” Jackson said. “We need to play at our own level.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @jmedley_star.