By SKYE SEIPP
The Harvesters came up short of victory with an 82-80 loss in a harrowing day of basketball against the Richland Thunderducks in the DAC Region V championship game.
The Saturday loss brought the Harvesters’ 25 wins and eight-loss season to an end, but they didn’t go out without a fight, head coach Anthony Fletcher said.
“They were in that game and they were fighting for their lives,” he said.
From the start of the game, both teams played a game of tug of war for the lead.
The only sizeable lead the Harvesters held was when they went up 41-34 off of a guard D’Angelo Smith slam-dunk with three minutes left in the first half.
The lead would not last long, as fouls and missed shots by the Harvesters allowed the Thunderducks to take a 42-41 lead heading into the locker room.
Coming back from the break the Harvesters got off to a slow start, allowing the Thunderducks to capitalize and go up 59-47 with about 13:30 minutes left in the game.
Down by 11 points and the clock rapidly winding down, Harvesters guard Rashaun Coleman began to rally his team back.
“Rashaun wasn’t ready for the season to end,” Fletcher said.
In about two minutes, Coleman led the Harvesters back with two shots and two assists to get the team within three points of the Thunderducks.
The score was 56-59 with 11 minutes left to play.
What followed was a lull in the game with neither side scoring for almost two minutes, until the Thunderducks broke the hiatus, recharging the energy of the game.
For the next nine minutes of play, both sides battled tooth and nail against one another, with neither one willing to submit to the other.
The biggest glimmer of hope for the Harvesters came when the Thunderducks missed both of their free throw shots with two minutes left in the game and kept the Harvesters right on their tails at 74-76.
The Harvesters failed to make the most of the opportunity though and with 29 seconds left in the game, the Harvesters were down 76-80.
The Harvesters scored four points in the last 30 seconds of the game and held the Thunderducks to just two, but it wasn’t enough, and the Harvesters walked away with a 80-82 season ending loss.
With the close loss hanging over their heads, Fletcher was adamant in letting the players know that he loved and was proud of them all.
“Of course it hurts, but when you’ve been doing it so long it’s another day in the office,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher’s next goal is to help everyone leaving Eastfield to continue at the next level.
“My next job is to get those guys scholarships to the next level,” he said.
From earning his 300th career win as a head coach and reaching the DAC championship for the fifth time in seven years. The 2018-19 season was a big year for Fletcher. However, he sees no time to sit and relish on all of his accomplishments from this past season.
“We want to get back to this game next season, there’s not much time to rest and relax,” he said.