E.A. Sports Today

Miracle at the Beach

White Plains rallies from 22-point halftime deficit to win Sandestin opener in overtime

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
FREEPORT, Fla. – Call it the Miracle at the Beach.
A week after suffering the gut-punch of losing a big lead in the second half, White Plains felt the exhilaration of pulling off a big comeback, rallying from 22 down at halftime and 16 after three quarters to beat Fontainbleau (La.) 51-48 in overtime in Friday’s opening game of the Sandestin Hilton Beach Blowout.
It was uncanny the way the game resembled the Wildcats’ loss to Moody in the opening round of the Champions Christmas Classic, only in reverse. They were up 22 early in the third quarter of that one and 14 in the fourth.
“It feels good to be on the other side,” leading scorer Jaden Chatman said.
“It’s a good way to start the trip,” added defensive leader Coleman Messer.
It was the Wildcats’ biggest comeback coach Chris Randall can remember since a 2007 home win over Cherokee County in which they trailed by 24 in the third quarter and 16 entering the fourth. They won in regulation.
Fontainbleau, a school of 1,800 students in Mandeville, La., buried the Wildcats under a hail of 3-pointners in the first half, hitting as many 3s as White Plains had points in opening a 30-8 lead. It was 36-20 at the end of three quarters.
Despite the big deficit the Wildcats remained calm. They plugged in a full-court press that wouldn’t let the Bulldogs get off or stall the clock and they chipped away. They ultimately tied it at 40-40 on Brody Baker’s backside basket off the inbounds with 50 seconds left and had a chance to win in regulation but Chatman’s putback didn’t fall.
“Luck wasn’t going our way,” Messer said. “We had a bunch of people down and had to get in each other’s ear that we can come back. The whole game I was reminding everybody (what happened against Moody) and we can come back.
“I looked up at the scoreboard and it was 12, oh we’re coming close, then it was 10. We got it down to four and we’re right where we want to be. Teams had us in this position, let’s stay on their neck and win this game.”
Randall credited the team’s second unit, led by sixth-man Walker O’Steen, and the encouragement from assistant coach Brad Yarbrough for sparking the comeback. O’Steen led the group that got the rally going and Yarbrough was their voice of confidence.
“We were a little bit impatient early,” Randall said. “You’d think you’re get reckless and wild trying to come back, but we got a little more patient and that’s what helped us chip away. We kept attacking the basket instead of settling for the 3.
“I think the most important part of the game was Coach Yarbrough. He kept making the guys believe they could still win. I was in the ditch and he was telling them ‘remember the Moody game, remember if they can do it we can do it.’ It started sinking in. He made everybody wearing blue and white believe we could win. It was special.”
The Wildcats never trailed in overtime, although the Bulldogs did get within one with 30.6 seconds to play. It was 51-48 with 5.2 seconds left. The Bulldogs got the ball to midcourt and called time to set their final play in motion. They inbounded, the Wildcats denied the Bulldogs’ two best options and Rene Plaisance’s potential tying 3-pointer missed.
Chatman led the Wildcats with 15 points. O’Steen had 13 and Baker had 10. The Wildcats now play Helena Saturday at 3 p.m and are guaranteed to stay through the weekend. The Wildcats have now played teams from four different states this season.
White Plains 51, Fontainbleau (La.) 48 (OT)
Coleman Messer 0 0-0 0, Quin Wilson 1 1-2 3, Jaden Chatman 4 7-8 15, Jacob Wheeler 2 0-0 5, Landon Senciboy 1 0-0 2, Brody Baker 2 6-8 10, Carson Wright 1 0-0 2, Walker O’Steen 5 2-5 13, Garrett Wilson 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 16-23 51.
FONTAINBLEAU – Rene Plaisance 0 0-0 0, Michael Cuccia 1 0-0 2, Bryan Gowland 2 4-4 10, Trey Alfonso 5 0-0 13, Chance Treadway 2 2-3 8, Christopher Caskey 4 0-1 11, Taash Stampf 2 0-0 4, Cleousec Weeden 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 6-8 48.
White Plains     4    4   12  20  11 –  51
Fontainbleau    17  13 6    4    8   –  48
3-point goals: White Plains 3 (Wilson, Wheeler, O’Steen); Fontainbleau 10 (Gowland 2, Alfonso 3, Treadway 2, Caskey 3). Fouled out: Gowland. Total fouls: White Plains 10, Fountainbleau 18.

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