Dante Wright had just hit a jump shot in the lane in the fourth quarter, pushing Navarre’s over Gulf Breeze back to 10 in an intense rivalry game Tuesday night in Navarre.
There was still seven minutes and 30 seconds left on the clock, but in a game where the Raiders had held off the Dolphins’ rally attempts time and again, the belief was Navarre would find a way to win against their bitter District 1-8A rival.
Yet, with the pressure rising, the Raiders stumbled. They turned the ball over a handful of times, missed crucial shots and allowed the Dolphins piece together a furious rally that left Navarre on the short end of a 60-57 score.
Zion Hamilton came through with perhaps the biggest basket, tipping in a shot moments after a turnover to give Gulf Breeze a 58-57 advantage with 40 seconds to play. Navarre had no answer and suffered their third consecutive loss.
“We got a little passive and careless with the ball and it caught up to us,” Navarre head coach Taf Bentley said. “But credit Gulf Breeze. They made play after play.”
Navarre (11-12) went into the fourth with a 51-43 advantage and were poised to seal the deal, especially after Dominica Riddle scored on a layup and nailed a jumper to put the Raiders in front 57-53.
And then it all fell apart. Passes slipped out of the hands of players and sometimes the Dolphins went right after the Raiders and stole the ball.
“There were times we dribbled and turned it over. There were times we passed the ball and turned it over and there were times they went and took it from us,” Bentley said. “It was about them making plays and us not having the attention to detail we need to have in order to do well. That’s what it came down to.”
With the crowd on its feet standing and cheering, Navarre had a chance to keep the momentum in its favor with a crucial defensive stand.
But Chance Napier drilled a 3-pointer from up top, cutting the Raiders’ lead to 57-56 with 2:21 to go. The two teams traded empty possessions before Hamilton scored to give the Dolphins the lead for good.
Read more in the Feb. 2 edition of the Navarre Press or subscribe online here.