It only takes 5.2 seconds to make a miracle.
With the Indian Land mere moments from overtime, tied at 59 against rivals Keenan, head coach Nate Smith drew up a full-court play to get “at least a shot” before preparing to play a bonus period of basketball.
It was meant to go to sophomore point guard Darnell Rogers – but Damien Foreman had other plans.
“When I took it out and got it to Derries (Hampton), I found a lane,” Foreman said. “ I saw the opportunity and took it.”
As the clock expired, Hampton found Foreman 12 feet from the rim and his floater clanged the iron once before dropping in.
The buzzer rang.
The student section exploded.
Indian Land (20-4) earned its way into the class-AA state semifinals.
“I was just in the moment, man,” Foreman, who had 19 points, said afterwards, amid hugs from the waves of Warrior fans surrounding him. “The goal is to win a ring and now we’ve got just two more games to go do that.”
Indian Land will play Newberry (24-4) at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday afternoon for the 2A Upper State championship. Tip is expected at 3:30 p.m.
“It felt like the shot was taking forever,” Smith said. “When he released it and it went in, that was a huge burden off my heart.”
Make no mistake, Keenan (20-7) fought for every opportunity to knock off the No. 2-ranked Warriors. Down 14 with two minutes left in the third quarter, the Raiders rattled off three straight 3-pointers, including two by freshman guard Tariq Simmons.
South Carolina-signee Marcus Stroman’s 360 layup cut the Indian Land lead to three entering the final frame of action. And Stroman’s (16 points) trip to the foul line after a converted layup gave the visitors their first lead all night with six minutes left in regulation.
“They’re a championship-caliber team, no doubt about it,” Smith said. “When we got up by 13, I felt like my guys got too lax. We knew they would go down swinging.”
Rogers took over to score six straight Warrior points in the next three minutes before Foreman crashed the lane to knot the game up at 57. Both teams traded fouls and both Rogers and Stroman converted from the charity stripe.
The last time Keenan had been held to under 60 points was Jan. 4 against Dreher.
Rogers said he knew that he had to pressure Stroman from the beginning in order to get him off of his rhythm.
“I knew he wasn’t going to stay quiet, so I had to really guard him close,” Rogers said. “It worked.”
Thirty seconds remained as the Warriors circled the wagon on what looked to be the last possession of the game. Keenan’s Kendrick Gathers went for a 3-point shot just feet from his team’s bench, which clanged the rim twice before hopping out.
With just a touch over 5 seconds left, Foreman inbounded the ball on that final play. A minute later, an ecstatic home crowd was cheering his name.
“They’ve been working and wanting this for a year now,” Smith said. “Lancaster County is ready for a championship and we want to bring them one. They’ll be behind us.
A fan bus to Greenville will be available for those who sign up in the school’s front office. The fan bus will be free, but tickets for the game are $10 each. Football coach Michael Mayer has 100 advance tickets to Saturday’s game. All money from presale tickets will stay at Indian Land.
Indian Land 61, Keenan 59
K: Marcus Stroman 16, Kendrick Gathers 8, Tariq Simmons 15, Javontae Davis 6, Antwan Holmes 6, Sam Harmon 8; IL: Darnell Rogers 20, Lee McCall 6, Derries
Hampton 4, Quantra Taylor 4, Damien Foreman 19, Brandon Barnes 8,
Team fouls: K 10; IL 14
Foul shooting: K 6-7; IL 5-9
3-point shooting: K 6 (Gathers 2, Cook 3, Stroman 1); IL 4 (Rogers 3, Foreman 1)
Team records: K 20-7; IL 20-4