It was Madison County’s version of the “Shot heard round the world.” In this case and for Mustang middle school basketball player Keith Gantt, it was the shot heard around Madison County.
Word quickly spread via Facebook and texting when Gantt’s three point buzzer beater helped the Madison County seventh grade middle school Mustangs bring home the Region basketball trophy. As if taken right out of a Hollywood script; with just seconds left in the game, Gantt’s inbound pass was stolen and taken in for what seemed to be a winning Hart County layup. As we all know the in the movies, the good guys usually come out on top as did Gantt and his teammates.
“I can’t say enough good things about this group,” said Coach Wayne McCarty. “They are very talented and will continue to be very successful as long as they keep the same work ethic as they have now.”
The seventh grade Mustangs include Courtney Stevenson, Keith Gantt, Travon Daniel, Dylan Gentry, Gholston Gillespie, KJ Burton, Dra Wilbon, Jaylan White, Keevan Wilhite and Alex Sims. The team rolled off an 11-2 record and came home with the Region Championship prize.
Their outstanding year included sweeps over Franklin County, Malcolm Bridge, and a victory over West Jackson. The seventh grade Mustangs tied for the regular season champions and ended up as the number two seed after losing a coin toss. The Mustangs defeated Stephens County soundly in game one to move into the championship game where they defeated Hart County on Gantt’s buzzer beating three pointer.
It was an exciting game and when the final horn sounded those who made the trip from Madison County joined in an on court celebration.
“I look forward to another great year next year as they should contend for another championship,” said Coach McCarty.
The 8th grade Mustangs came up just short of a repeat in their region title game later that day. Hart County, who defeated Madison County twice in the regular season, defeated the Mustangs 36-24 in the title game. The eighth grade Mustangs ended their regular season with an 11-4 record, three of the four losses coming against Hart County including the championship game. The Mustang eighth grade boys had a two-year record of 25-6 and were the 2010-11 NEGIAA Region Champions and 2011-12 NEGIAA Region runners-up.
Their roster consisted of Ethan South, Octavious Willingham, Ryan Moon, Cameron Stevenson, Sam Bartlett, Cade Hancock, Trey Trimier, Hunter Chandler, Braxton Hood, Tyler Griffeth, Josh Wymbs, and DeWitt Wood. Managers were Tre Howard and Mason Bassett.
“I am very proud of this group. They have worked extremely hard over the last two years that I have coached them,” said McCarty. “I can honestly say that I have never coached a group with as much heart and grit as this team. Teams like this are what make coaching so much fun.”
McCarty was assisted by coaches Allen Morrow and Patrick Miles with both squads.
This group of eighth grade Mustangs was also responsible for helping the program win four of the last five NEGIAA Region Championships with one runner up finish. The Mustangs have won six NEGIAA Region Championships in the last six years starting with the current senior class. Entering the region tournament at the number three seed, the eighth grade Mustangs faced Elbert County. Madison County was behind for most of the game, but battled back to take a late lead. A missed three pointer by Elbert with six seconds left sealed the win. The win over Elbert put the Mustangs in the championship round with Hart but a loss to the Bullpups placed Madison County as runners-up.
“I want to say thanks to the coaches and parents that have been so supportive of me and the players the last two years,” said McCarty. With the support of the parents, the Mustangs were able to purchase a new set of uniforms. “I am very grateful. You guys are the reason for all the success that we have had over the last several years.”
Dallas Bordon is former sports editor for The Comer News/Danielsville Monitor and a regular contributor to The Madison County Journal.