The Prosper boys basketball team lost 51-49 in their first round playoff game against Frisco Liberty after a debatable put-back layup at the final buzzer by Zion Williamson at the Culwell Center in Garland on Feb. 21.
A wild final minute led to Liberty (16-14) having possession, inbounding at their own baseline with 1.8 seconds remaining. The pass flew over the intended receiver’s head, but Liberty had enough time to get another shot off, grab an offensive rebound and put it in to come away with the victory.
The officials counted the basket, grouped up to review the call and upheld their decision. However, a video taken from the stands by a former Prosper student indicates the play clock did not start in time and that Williamson did not release the ball before the buzzer sounded.
Coach Jonathan Ellis said the Prosper athletic director will decide if any action will be taken to review the play going forward.
“I think there was a lot of shock there,” Prosper coach Jonathan Ellis said. “We have a lot of high-character kids in our district. I’m glad we could show that last night.”
Both teams traded clutch shots leading up to that point. Prosper junior Zach Wrightsil made two huge free throws to take a three-point lead with 54 seconds remaining, but Liberty’s Nate Autrey hit a clutch 3-pointer on the other end to tie the game. It was his only basket the entire game.
“We’ve tried to get him to shoot more throughout the year, and he did,” Liberty coach Danny Melton said. “He came up big.”
After that, Prosper (23-10) held the ball for nearly 30 seconds before sophomore Josh Davis made his move to the basket. Davis missed a contested layup, Liberty took it down the court but also missed at the rim, getting the ball tipped out of bounds. That left time for one last play.
Davis made a game-winner on a similar play in Prosper’s last regular season game against Newman-Smith on Feb. 14. This time, he and his team were on the other side of it.
“It was a sad moment,” Ellis said. “There were a lot of tears in the locker room after the game, not just because of how it ended but because our season was over.”
The remainder of the game was as close as it gets. Liberty outscored Prosper 25-24 in the first half and 26-25 in the second half. Neither team led by more than three points in the fourth quarter.
Richardson and Wrightsil led their respective teams with 16 points each. Davis had 11, junior Kyle Jessen added 10 and senior Thomas Jordan finished with eight, including a pivotal 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.
This marks the third year in a row the Prosper boys have lost in the first round of the playoffs. Next season, the Eagles will return four of their five starters and six players overall. They’ll also add some players from their junior varsity team, which became district champions this season.
“I told the guys to keep their heads up high,” Ellis said. “For returning players, there’s no bigger motivation than this right here to get you working hard in the off season.”