In a thrilling game, the Darren McClinton All-Stars (8-2) eked out a 77-75 come-from-behind victory over the A. Wash Associates (7-3) in the semifinals of the Kenner League at McDonough Arena on Saturday afternoon.
A buzzer beater attempt that would have won the game by A. Wash forward Keldon Johnson glanced off rim. The result, the All-Stars moved onto the finals.
“They had it last but we were able to make a stop,” said All-Stars head coach Darren McClinton.
“If they hit it, it would be a great victory for us,” said Associates head coach Larry Bowden. “They went for the win instead of the tie. Great game. He got it off on time. It was good to be part of a tough game.”
On the sequence, with 6.2 seconds left, All-Stars guard Reggie Gardner missed a front end of a one-and-one and Associates guard Kaleb Johnson (17 points) pushed it up court and found his brother Keldon Johnson. This time the result were unsuccessful.
The All-Stars were down by as much as 10 points before staging a furious comeback led by Anthony Cowan and his game-high 26 points.
The All-Stars had a 69-68 lead when Cowan decided to launch a 26-footer. The result, a 72-68 lead with 1:20 left.
“He’s an extremely good player,” said Bowden of Cowan. “He can really shoot the ball. He made some really tough shots. What can you say?”
“It was a big shot obviously,” said McClinton.
All-Stars guard Reggie Gardner (8 points) and forward Matt Lewis (17 points) extended the All-Stars lead. Early in the game, Gardner had missed a front end one-and-one. With under a minute, Gardner sank two free throws to extend the lead to three. Off an Associates turnover, Lewis went in for a fast break dunk to extend the lead to five points with less than 40 seconds left.
Yet, after a three-pointer with 12.3 seconds by Associates forward Kaleb Johnson (17 points) it was Cowan again who stepped up. This time sinking two foul shots to extend the lead to 77-73.
Associates’ Kaleb Johnson missed a three but was fouled. He only hit two of three foul shots making the score 77-75, the eventual final.
Of note, soon to be professional center/forward Emmanuel Omogbo (2 points) was playing for A. Wash. Omogbo garnered national attention as his parents, niece and nephew perished in a house fire in Prince George’s County this past winter.
Bowden commented on his star player, saying, “Definitely, he’s going to succeed. His school’s behind him, got a community of people behind him. He’s going to be good.”