History was made in the Castle on Friday night.
Down double figures at halftime and with star player Ethan Montgomery watching on crutches in the doorway, the Cumberland Academy Knights found a way to rally for a 44-43 win over Spring Hill in overtime.
The win sends the Knights to the playoffs for the first time in program history. It’s also the first time any Cumberland Academy team has advanced to the postseason in a UIL start in its five-year history.
“That’s crazy right there,” Cumberland head coach Brian Crawford said following the game. “I thought we lost it at least two times. It’s unbelievable. Our best player went out. But the guys just willed their way to a win.”
Spring Hill jumped out to a 12-3 lead early and led 27-16 at halftime.
The Knights ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run, and Montgomery hit two free throws with 1.2 seconds on the clock to give Cumberland its first lead of the game, 36-34 after three quarters.
Spring Hill quickly tied the game in the fourth quarter with a jumper by Texas A&M baseball signee Hunter Hollan. Montgomery and Spring Hill’s Tyrese Jones traded 3-pointers to tie the score at 39.
After Chad Daniels put Cumberland in front, Montgomery went down with an injury on the defensive end with 4:33 remaining in regulation. Montgomery spent the remainder of the game on crutches, and Crawford said he would have to go to the hospital.
Spring Hill tied the game with a steal and layup by Jones with 3:07 to play, and neither team was able to score the remainder of regulation. Cumberland’s Nic Holmes missed a three as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Spring Hill went up 42-41 less than a minute into overtime with a free throw by Hollan. Neither team scored for nearly three minutes.
Spring Hill’s MonKavion Williams made a free throw with 18 seconds remaining to put the score at 43-41. The Knights came down, and Chad Daniels found Chris Hill inside. Hill finished through contact to tie the score, and he was fouled.
Crawford admitted that Hill doesn’t have a high free throw percentage on the season, but the junior stepped up and knocked down the biggest shot of his career when his team needed it the most to give the Knights a 44-43 lead with 7.4 seconds to play.
“I had to do it for my seniors and the rest of my brothers on the team,” Hill said. “I knew I had to make it.”
Williams dribbled quickly down the court and had a lane to the basket, but his attempt rolled off the rim, and Hill secured the rebound.
Hill finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds — 10 on the offensive end. Montgomery also had 15 points.
The win was Cumberland’s first against Spring Hill, which was the defending champion in the district.
Williams led Spring Hill with 15 points. Jones had 14 points. Hollan added 11 rebounds.
Cumberland (7-5 in 16-4A) has a bye on the final regular season night before entering the playoffs. Spring Hill (16-13, 5-6) will close the season Tuesday against Chapel Hill.
GIRLS BASKETBALL ROCKWALL-HEATH 53, LONGVIEW 44