GOOD HOPE — One last defensive stand.
That's all Good Hope's varsity boys needed on Friday night.
One last stop, one last burst of energy, one last ounce of grit — and the Raiders would be champions, simultaneously erasing a series of close calls and heartbreaking losses the past few seasons.
It came down to one close miss.
Tanner Malin amassed a game-high 19 points — making some clutch buckets late — and Good Hope steeled its resolve on Oneonta's final possession, forcing an off-the-mark 3-pointer for a 50-48 win in the championship game of the Class 4A, Area 11 Tournament.
It's the first area tourney title for the Raiders since the 2009-10 campaign.
And it couldn't be sweeter, even if Drew Adams' thoughts turned sour late.
"We've played Oneonta nine times in the last three years, and eight of the nine have gone down to the wire," the Good Hope coach said. "In those moments, as a coach, you always think that shot's going in. And I really felt like we had done enough things to give them a shot to do it. So, when the ball goes up, all I can think about is how we would feel if that goes in.
"I'm very thankful — thankful to get an opportunity to win a game like this, because we've been on the other side of some tough games. It's so hard to win in 4A around this area. I'm not going to say it's like getting a monkey off your back, but it's a relief because we've been on the losing end."
The teams duked it out over a full 32 minutes in a matchup worth the price of admission.
Good Hope built a 31-23 lead late in the third quarter, but the Redskins answered with a 12-4 run to tie things up at 35 with 6:03 remaining in the contest.
The Raiders eventually led 46-43 — and that's when Malin made his presence known.
He scored inside to bump Good Hope's lead to five at the 1:16 mark and then answered an Oneonta 3 with yet another basket to put the Raiders in front 50-46 with 47 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Redskins, though, battled back, trimming their deficit to two (50-48) following a pair of missed free throws and then forcing a turnover with less than 10 seconds left to put themselves in a position to win.
Not ideal, but nonetheless fun. At least, for Malin.
"It's the best feeling ever," he said. "Knowing that one stop, one shot will change the outcome of the game. It's the best, especially when you're on the good side of it."
Malin and Co. made sure of that, sprinting to their spots on that last, pivotal possession and forcing a semi-contested 3-pointer — Noah Barnette closed out hard — that ultimately missed its mark as time expired.
"When the ball's in the air, it's just hope that it doesn't go in," Malin said. "When it fell off, it's then just the realization that we finally won after losing the past two years. And we finally got over the hump of beating Oneonta and winning an area title."
According to Adams, the final stand was merely a microcosm of his team's effort on Friday night.
"I really thought we grinded out some tough defensive possessions," he said. "Yeah, we've got to score more than them, but this is all about grinding out possessions, grabbing rebounds and limiting Oneonta to just one shot. That's what it came down to in the fourth quarter.
"Offensively, 11 (Malin) had a lot to do with it, too. I'll put that kid up against anybody around here."
Colton Lindsey (nine), Lawton Farr (eight), Michael Owens (six), Barnette (three), K'mal Bell (three) and Charlie O'Neil (two) complemented Malin in a balanced scoring effort.
Good Hope, ranked No. 6 in 4A, improved to 23-7 following the victory.
Malin, Barnette, Lindsey and Farr were all named to the All-Area Team.
So, too, were Hanceville's Zach Campbell and Izayah Glenon.
See below for next week's sub-regional matchups involving local teams. All games will tip at 6:30 p.m.
Varsity Girls (Monday)
Sulligent at Cold Springs
Fairview at Boaz
Haleyville at Good Hope
Holly Pond at Winfield
West Point at East Limestone
Varsity Boys (Tuesday)
Aliceville at Cold Springs, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
Hamilton at Good Hope, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
West Point at Lee-Huntsville, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.
See below for more local roundup.
Friday, February 12
Class 2A, Area 13 Tournament
Cold Springs 43, Winston County 36
Brody Peppers: 15 points
Adam Hill: 14 points
Tanner Kilgo: 7 points
Class 5A, Area 15 Tournament
Russellville 68, West Point 64
Aubry Cleghorn: 22 points
Carter Thornton: 15 points
Will Cochran: 12 points