The Titans and the Wolverines gave local basketball fans a game they will remember for years to come.
The stands were packed at Windermere High School as crosstown rivals Windermere and Olympia clashed Jan. 7. Not only was it a Friday game but also a marquee matchup of two of the area’s top teams.
It promised to be a tough, physical game between two rival schools.
And yes, it lived up to the hype.
A last-second three by Olympia’s Edgerrin James Jr. completed the Titans’ comeback as they came away victorious, 57-54. He finished the night with 18 points in the second half after sitting out the first half for undisclosed reasons.
James is the son of NFL Hall of Fame running back Edgerrin James.
When James came into the game, Olympia was down by 12 at halftime, 44-32. The Titans were struggling on offense and needed a spark to get them going.
Head coach Rob Gordon’s message to the team during the break was to chip away at the deficit and to stay the course.
“I challenged our guys to be as tough as they had been in the first half and match that to see what happens,” Gordon said. “(Windermere) really got the best of us in the first half. As the second half wore on, our guys got stronger. It seemed the conditioning really mattered down the stretch.”
When the second half began, Olympia slowly hacked at that deficit and was positioned for a breakout in the fourth quarter. The Titans scored 24 points in the fourth to keep the game close, but Windermere still held the lead heading into the final minute of play.
Then, James took over the ball game.
“He’s not our everything, but he’s the guy that gets us moving in the right direction,” Gordon said. “He’s a special player. Anytime you’re in a situation where a guy’s not in there … you’ve got to figure out a Plan B.”
That Plan B worked.
Just as it seemed like the game would be heading to overtime with the score tied at 54 and fewer than five seconds remaining, James received the inbound pass and tossed up a prayer. It went through with a swish, and the Olympia players and supporters went absolutely bonkers, storming the court in celebration.
Part of the celebration was the fact that Olympia had not won a game against Windermere, going 0-4 before this meeting.
“For us to get our first win against that school in that fashion, it was awesome,” Gordon said. “I’m proud that we had so many fans here who were able to enjoy that with us.”
Sean Stewart led Windermere in scoring with 15 points, while teammates Chris Nurse and Chalier Torres joined him in double digits, with totals of 12 and 11, respectively.
Olympia’s record improved to 11-1 at the time of publication, while Windermere rebounded the next day against Trinity Prep by winning 82-44 to improve its record to 12-2. The Wolverines then added another win against Ocoee on January 11 86-41.
The Titans lost to Dr. Phillips in overtime on January 12 68-67, dropping their record to 11-2.
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