Boys basketball: Dolan’s free throws push Scott past Poca
POCA, W.Va. -- Scott High guard Matt Dolan said his daily basketball workout includes at least 200 free throws. He was thankful for every one of those Wednesday night.
Dolan buried two free throws with 0.8 seconds left to lift the Skyhawks boys basketball team to a 53-52 upset of sixth-ranked Poca in their Class AA Region 4 co-final. That capped a wild final minute that put Scott back into the State Tournament after missing a trip to Charleston last season.
"I wouldn't want anyone else taking those last two shots," Scott Coach Nick Cabell said, "and he knocked them down."
Dolan had made two free throws about 30 seconds earlier to give Scott (15-10) its first lead since it went ahead of the Dots (18-7) 14-13 with about 6:14 left in the first half. The senior got to the line after Poca's Adam Sigman was called for traveling while trying to split a double team with about 43 seconds left. Then Noah Frampton fouled Dolan and the senior put Scott ahead 51-50 from the free-throw line.
Poca answered with 5.8 seconds left when Cameron Cottrill pulled down a rebound off a missed 3-pointer and found Frampton underneath the basket. Frampton's shot gave Poca a 52-51 lead. After a time out, Dolan took the inbounds pass from underneath Poca's basket and streaked the length of the court, getting fouled on a drive with less than a second to go.
"I was going to the hole," Dolan said as the raucous Scott fan base chanted, 'Thank you, Dolan,' behind him. "That's exactly what I thought. I said I was going to the hole right off the bat."
Poca had one last stab at the win, but Frampton's half-court heave bounced off the front of the rim as the clock ran out.
This last-second finish was nothing new for the two teams, who split the season series with an average margin of victory of 2.5 points. Frampton hit a jumper from the free-throw line on Jan. 11 to beat Scott 40-39, and the Skyhawks erased Poca's 10-point second-half lead to win 39-35 on Feb. 19.
Dolan made five of six free throws in the fourth quarter Wednesday to lead the Skyhawks with 16 points. Scott weathered sophomore Frampton's game-high 19 points and a Poca defense that forced 18 Skyhawk turnovers.
Most of those turnovers came in the first half, as Poca led by as many as seven in that period and took a 26-20 lead into halftime.
"We knew we were going to have half-court man-to-man in our face," Cabell said. "We tried to prepare for it at practice. The first half, I thought they got every loose ball. I don't think we gave the effort Poca did."
That changed in the second half. Scott's turnovers went down as its effort picked up. The Skyhawks' shooting picked up as well. Scott made 11-of-16 second-half shots to climb back into the game.
"The first half, they did a lot of ball screens and we did a good job of guarding those ball screens," Poca Coach Allen Osborne said. "The second half, we didn't do as good of a job on those ball screens. They got the corner turned around on us. They went with a smaller lineup and put more guards in there, and that helped their ball handling."
Cody Brown scored 14 points for Scott, while Cottrill added 11 points for Poca.
After trudging through a seven-win season in 2011-12, Scott is back in the State Tournament. The Skyhawks fell in the 2011 championship game, 57-48, to Oak Hill. Dolan was a sophomore starter on that team. And while his current team is a young one, he's seen his teammates mature so much during this season that he knew they could score the upset.
"We looked at each other in the final minute and said we're not losing this game," Dolan said. "I knew in my heart my team would give everything it had."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.