NICEVILLE – Mosley junior Je’Quon Ward made just one shot from the field against Niceville Thursday night.
It turned out to be the biggest shot of his career.
With Mosley trailing District 2-6A foe Niceville 61-60 in the game’s final seconds, the Dolphins had the ball under their basket with seven seconds to get off a winning shot. While Niceville defended well initially, the ball bounced Mosley’s — and Ward’s — way, as the point guard corraled the rebound after Josh Turner’s miss and banked in a layup as time expired to give Mosley an unlikely 62-61 victory.
“As soon as I saw the first shot was missed the ball came right to me,” said Ward, who scored 12 points. “I just thought “This is it’ and I picked it up and put it up as fast as I could. As soon as I shot it, I heard the buzzer and I knew we had won. It felt amazing.”
Ward’s loose-ball layup capped a frenetic final possession. Originally, the Dolphins took over with 30 seconds on the clock, and Niceville forced two near-turnovers, the second which turned into a jump-ball possession. The arrow gave the ball to the Dolphins with seven seconds left, setting up Ward’s heroics.
The buzzer beater gave Mosley (4-10, 2-3) a win in a game where it trailed by as many as 14 points late in the third quarter. When Niceville’s Devin Vazquez connected on a pair of free throws with one minute, 45 seconds to go in the third, the Eagles led 53-39. That’s when Mosley junior Nat Dixon took over.
Dixon, who scored a game-high 29 points, had nine in a 15-0 run that gave Mosley a 54-53 lead two minutes into the fourth quarter. The forward hit a 3-pointer and connected on back-to-back three-point plays before finishing the run with a steal and assist to Brandon Salazar to help turn a 14-point deficit into a one-point lead.
From there, the two teams battled back and forth, with Niceville freshman Mitch Morken hitting two free throws to give the Eagles a 61-60 lead with 30 seconds left. Earlier in the final minute, Niceville had missed consecutive free throws on the front end of 1-and-1s, failing to stretch the Eagles’ one-point lead.
For Mosley head coach Chris Martello, the last-second win was a rare occurrence.
“I’ve been coming here for about a decade and that’s the first time we’ve stolen one like that,” he said. “Any time you win at Niceville it’s a great win. They’re so well-coached and they make you work for everything. To win here is a big deal.”
On a night where the teams combined to shoot 54 free throws, 10 of Ward’s 12 points came from the free-throw line. The Dolphins connected on 23 of 30 while Niceville was 17 of 24.
Nicholas Haynes scored 15 points to lead Niceville, while Morken added 10. Korey Amaker and Terrance Jones each scored eight points.