RUSKIN — Before his team's Class 6A-Region 3 boys basketball quarterfinal against Mitchell on Thursday, Lennard senior Robert Gant envisioned himself hitting the game-winning shot.
Hours later, it came true.
Though he hadn't made a shot all game, with a few seconds remaining in the region playoff contest, Gant scooped up a loose ball at the top of key and let it fly as time expired.
Final score: Lennard 54, Mitchell 51.
The win gave Lennard (23-4) its first postseason victory in school history and put the Longhorns in the 6A region semifinals, where they will host Largo on Tuesday.
While backpedaling toward the opposite end of the court after his game-winning shot, Gant, a 5-foot-10 guard, was immediately swarmed by teammates and students who rushed the court. Mitchell players walked off the court in disbelief, dumbfounded their season had ended with a record of 22-6 and ranked 10th in the state poll.
“It's crazy,” Gant said. “I dreamed this morning it was me that hit the buzzer-beater, and it happened.”
With less than 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter, senior guard Caelen Watts attempted to make the game-winning play, but lost control of the ball while dribbling between two Mitchell defenders.
“I tried setting a screen but he lost the ball,” Gant said. “The clock was going down so I had to get the ball and shoot it as fast as I can. Next thing I know, I got the ball, threw it up and it went in.”
Watts led the Longhorns with 15 points while Trey Jones added 14 points. Brian Powers and Sean Thompson each had 12 points for Mitchell.
“This whole run, that's the community,” Lennard coach Danny Gaddis said. “It takes a village.”