Dutchtown forward Jalen Blye called it the most exciting game he's ever played in. When he considered all the variables at play — the raucous opposing crowd, region standings implications and thrilling end — he couldn't come up with a better one.
And the game's excitement reached its pinnacle at the very end, when Bulldogs senior Kellan Holiday knocked down a 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to give Dutchtown a 65-64 victory on the road against Union Grove in a critical Region 3A-AAAA game Friday.
Dutchtown (10-9, 8-1 Region 3A-AAAA) extended its winning streak to four games, increased its lead in the subregion to two games and continued a remarkable resurgence after an 0-6 start to the season.
"I think tonight showed we can play in a pretty tough environment," Dutchtown coach Bernie Farrell said. "Their fans were outstanding the whole game. It shows we can play in a tight game like that."
Down 64-60 with just over a minute left in the game, Dutchtown clawed back thanks to a short jumper Rodney Brown and three consecutive missed free throws Union Grove's Charles Mann and Jordan Nelson.
After a jumpball gave the Bulldogs possession, Farrell called a timeout with 21 seconds remaining and drew up a play. Donovahn Jones took the ball at the top of the key, dribbled into the lane and passed to Holiday, who was wide open behind the arc.
Holiday took care of the rest.
"It felt great," Holiday said. "As soon as it left my hands, I knew it was good."
Union Grove called a timeout after Holiday's basket to set-up a shot to win, but Mann's off-balance 3 missed the rim and Dutchtown survived.
"That was the most fun game I've ever played in," Blye said.
Few could argue. In the second half, the lead changed 10 times, was tied five times and no team led more than four points. The teams were nearly even in several statistical areas, including rebounds (30-28), steals (5-4), blocks (3-3) and free throws (14-14).
Blye had 19 points to lead Dutchtown. Brown had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Holiday finished with 11 points and Jones added 10 points.
Union Grove (10-7, 6-3) was led Mann, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. Sean Williams added 20 points, five rebounds and two assists, while Jordan Nelson had 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.
Union Grove girls 40, Dutchtown 35
The Lady Wolverines withstood a second-half comeback the Lady Bulldogs to survive with a Region 3A-AAAA win.
Elliotte Roberts led Union Grove (10-7, 4-5 Region 3A-AAAA) with 11 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Corinne White added eight points and nine rebounds, while Erin Lyttle scored eight points off the bench.
Deundria Clark had 14 points and seven rebounds for Dutchtown (11-8, 5-4), including 10 in the second half. Aisha Atwater added eight points.