Charles Davis scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, as Fannie Lou Hamer avenged its only loss this season, topping South Bronx Prep 61-55 in the PSAL B Division Final at Baruch College on Saturday.
After falling to South Bronx Prep 69-63 in a thriller in mid-January, the Panthers prevailed when it counted most, handing the Cougars what was only their second loss of the season in another intense, action-packed affair in front of a capacity crowd.
PSAL scoring champ Tilquan Rucker carried South Bronx Prep early, giving the Cougars a 9-7 lead at the end of the opening frame.
South Bronx Prep took a 15-8 lead on Mark Morgan's double clutch drive early in the second, but Davis answered with a two-handed dunk for Fannie Lou Hamer on the ensuing possession, as the Panthers broke the Cougars' press to trim the margin to 15-10.
South Bronx Prep stretched its lead to 18-10 on a corner 3-pointer by Rucker, but Fannie Lou responded with an 11-2 run, taking a 21-20 lead on a drive by Frankie Williams and triggering a South Bronx Prep timeout with 1:28 to play in the second quarter. The Cougars suffered a setback in the final minute of the half when Ali Sumareh was hit with a technical after being whistled for his third foul, resulting in a fourth personal. The Panthers kept the momentum heading into the break, as a fall away jumper by Williams gave Fannie Lou a 25-21 advantage at the half.
South Bronx Prep regained the lead at 29-27 after Rucker chased an offensive rebound and beat everyone downcourt for an uncontested layup, but Williams knotted the score at 29 with a teardrop down the lane with 5:20 to play in the third.
The Cougars scored the next six, taking a 35-29 lead after back-to-back buckets by Morgan, but a 3-pointer by Williams made it 35-32, and another big score by Davis made it 38-36 with 2:40 left in the frame. South Bronx Prep closed the quarter strong, taking a 45-38 lead into the fourth after Morgan hit Danny Ramos with a touchdown pass for a runout layup.
Fannie Lou chipped away early in the fourth, as Williams threaded the needle to find Davis for an open layup to make it 45-40, and Tyree Morris connected on a corner 3-pointer, bringing the Panthers within four at 47-43 with 5:20 to play. Fannie Lou got a boost from Walfri Restitullo down the stretch. Restitullo's layup off a sideline inbound brought the Panthers within two at 47-45, and his follow-up tied the game at 47.
Fannie Lou finally took the lead at 49-47 on a floater by Morris, but South Bronx Prep came right back to tie it at 49 on two free throws by Rucker. The Panthers took the lead for good after Restitullo blocked a driving attempt by Rucker at one end and Davis converted a 3-point play at the other, making it 52-49 and setting the stage for what would turn out to be the play of the game.
After Rucker was stripped of the ball on the next possession, Carpenter found Davis for a spectacular alley-oop dunk on the break, giving Fannie Lou a 54-49 lead with just 52.8 seconds left.
South Bronx Prep called another timeout, and the Cougars made it a one possession game at 54-51 on a score by Sumareh in the paint with 41 ticks left on the clock. Restitullo converted a pair of free throws to make it 56-51, and Fannie Lou made it a two possession game at 58-52 when Williams bounced in a pair of freebies with 21.8 seconds remaining.
South Bronx Prep refused to go quietly, as a 3-pointer by Troy Wells made it 58-55 at the 14.5 second mark, but Williams iced it with two more free throws, putting the Panthers in front 60-55 with just 11.5 seconds left. Another free throw by Williams made it a 61-55 final, giving Fannie Lou Hamer the PSAL B Division Crown.
Next up for Fannie Lou is the New York State Federation Tournament in Glens Falls, where they will face CHSAA B Champs LaSalle Academy in the Semifinal on Saturday, March 25th.