SANTA ROSA BEACH – It wasn’t supposed to end like this for South Walton’s boys’ basketball team.
In control for much of the game against Blountstown in Tuesday night’s District 4-1A Tournament opener, South Walton led by as many as 14 in the first half and by four in the game’s final two minutes. Ultimately, though two free throws by Blountstown’s Orin Peterson with 1.2 seconds remaining capped a big Blountstown comeback as the visiting Tigers earned a 55-53 win over the Sea-hawks.
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“They outplayed us,” said South Walton head coach John Davies, who watched his team’s season come to an end with a 16-10 re-cord. “Give them credit. Their kid stepped up and hit the free throws.”
Peterson went to the line after being fouled by Casey Palmer under South Walton’s basket. In a 53-53 game, South Walton failed to get a good shot off on its final possession, leading to Peterson’s two free throw attempts. After Peterson gave Blountstown the 55-53 lead, South Walton’s Paxton Dixon launched an 80-foot prayer from near the Blountstown bench and came within inches of hit-ting the game-winner. But when the ball rimmed out, Blountstown advanced to Friday night’s semifinal
“Like I told the guys in there, I have never enjoyed coaching a team as much as I’ve enjoyed this one,” said Davies. “This year was another step for us. We’re going to lose some seniors and we’re going to miss the heck out of them, but for these young guys, we just come back in here next year and keep working to build this program.”
The loss spoiled a strong performance from South Walton’s Wyatt Kemper, who delivered a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Dixon also scored 12, while Vinnie Ciuerleo and Darian Moore each scored nine.
Demetrius Sims led Blountstown with 17 points while Peterson added eight.