PRINCETON — School history was made on the hardwood on Tuesday, Feb. 27, as the Prosper boys basketball team outlasted Sulphur Springs for a 69-64 triple overtime win in the third round of the playoffs.
The dramatic, hard-earned victory marks the first time in school history that Prosper boys hoops will advance to the Regional Semifinals.
“I've had some overtime wins and some tough overtime losses,” Prosper head coach Jonathan Ellis said. “I'm not sure if I've had a three-overtime game like that.”
An electric crowd got their money's worth, waiting three extra periods until Prosper (32-3) sealed the game with a steal and breakaway dunk by senior Zach Wrightsil with 30 seconds left in triple overtime. Tension eased at that moment, as Prosper finally had breathing room and had the victory at their fingertips.
“In my mind, I knew we had the dub once I got the game-insuring dunk,” Wrightsil said, who finished with 18 points, six rebounds and three steals. “It felt amazing.”
For coach Ellis, tension faded away and a weight was lifted off his shoulders.
“I started tearing up because it was this group,” Ellis said. “This group has done so much for our school and done so much for me. I've put them through so much. I was so excited for them.”
Prosper ultimately was forced to win the game short-handed. Both Josh Davis (23 points, 10 rebounds, four steals) and Taveion White (inactive for previous two games) fouled out late in the second overtime, but bench players stepped up in their absence. Kris Wafer and Jerry McElroy, who missed the previous two games due to injury, saw extended minutes to help the Eagles close it out.
“That's what's been separating us all year is our depth,” Davis said. “When they came in, I felt like we didn't fall off much. It really saved us.”
Free throws were the story of the overtime periods. Each team had multiple chances to pull away, but woes from the stripe hindered their chances. No. 5 Prosper shot 10-for-26 across the three overtime periods, while No. 15 Sulphur Springs (30-5) shot 4-for-10, including an 0-for-4 sequence down 65-64 with one minute left in triple overtime.
Prosper repeatedly put themselves in position to win, getting the last possession in critical moments of the game. However, potential game-winning shots at the buzzer failed to find the bottom of the net in the fourth quarter, as well as the first and second overtimes.
It was an uphill battle for Prosper from the opening tip. Sulphur Springs went on a 7-0 run to open the game, forcing Ellis to call a timeout two minutes into the first quarter. The Eagles slowly chipped away at the lead and held Sulphur Springs to four points in the second quarter. Prosper took its first lead with three minutes left in the first half.
“I'm proud of the guys and how we responded early and took a lead into halftime,” Ellis said. “That was huge.”
Next up is a match-up versus No. 9 ranked Midlothian on Friday, Mar. 2. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland.
With teams like No. 1 ranked Waxahachie and district rival Little Elm both losing in the regional quarterfinals, a path is opening for Prosper to make a run all the way to state.
“It's been a long process, all of us together,” White said. “Ever since we lost on that buzzer-beater last year, we knew that this is what we wanted.”