It turned out to be the Trojans’ biggest shot of their basketball season.
Trailing by two and time running out, Lawson drained his seventh 3-pointer of the game with just three seconds remaining, lifting the Trojans to a stunning 61-60 come-from-behind victory over the Conquerors.
“It feels awesome,” Lawson said. “It’s the best win I’ve ever had in my life. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.”
Lawson said he didn’t think his last trey of the night was going to sink through.
“The guy was on me pretty tight, and I had to create space,” he said. “It was a step-back fadeaway. Cole (Murphy) gave me a good roll, and it went in. It hit the rim and just died, but it rolled in.”
Gaylesville coach Alton Leach said the Trojans tried to get Lawson the ball more in the second half when they switched offenses. The strategy worked.
“The other guys got him the ball, and he responded real well,” Leach said.
The win propels the fifth-seeded Trojans (4-18) to the tournament semifinals on Friday at 5:30 p.m. against top-seeded Collinsville (24-3). Coosa Christian’s season ends at 7-14.
“My hat’s off to them,” Coosa coach Richard Hollingsworth said. “The (Lawson) kid shot the ball extremely well. We talked during every time out about defending him. We didn’t step up, and that’s on me.”
Lawson, who finished with a game-high 32 points, gave the Trojans only their second lead of the game. Junior guard Dylan Mitchell gave Gaylesville an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter, but then the Trojans played catch-up the rest of the way.
Gaylesville trailed by as many as 11 points at 44-33 with 6:51 left in the game on a pair of Micah Mills free throws, but the Trojans kept fighting their way back, thanks in large part to Lawson.
Five of his 3-pointers came in the fourth quarter alone.
“Coosa came out hot,” Leach said. “They couldn’t miss to begin with, but we changed defenses from zone to man. It’s the first time we’ve played man in a while, and it just threw them off of what they were trying to do, I think. We just kept moving the ball.”
As Leach mentioned, the Conquerors jumped out to a 15-4 lead in the first quarter and led 17-11 after one. Gaylesville managed to cut its deficit to 26-22 at halftime. The Trojans trailed 40-33 at the end of the third quarter before they made their final push.
Coosa held a 57-53 lead with 1:11 to go on a pair of Austin Mills free throws, but Lawson brought the Trojans within a point at 57-56 on his sixth trey with 1:01 remaining.
Austin Mills put the Conquerors back up by three at 59-56 on another pair of free throws with 35.5 seconds left on the clock, but Murphy drove in for a quick layup to make it 59-58 Coosa.
Austin Mills was sent to the line again with 12 seconds remaining, but this time, he missed the front end of two shots, giving Coosa a 60-58 lead.
That set the stage for Lawson’s final 3-pointer, but the Conquerors had time for one last play. However, the Trojans broke up the in-bound pass near mid-court as time expired.
“I thought they played with poise. They knew it was an uphill battle,” Hollingsworth said. “We didn’t expect them to play a lot of man, but they went man pretty early and took our shooters away. When they put us in our execution phase, we just did not execute.”
Both Mills scored 17 points for the Conquerors. Caden Davidson, Caleb Garrett and Randy Washington all finished with six points.
Will Callan had eight points for Gaylesville. Murphy added seven points, six rebounds and six assists. Cavin came away with four points and seven rebounds. C.J. Williamson finished with four points.
“Maybe this enthusiasm they had the last little bit and the way they played hard tonight will carry over,” Leach said. “We’ve got a good Collinsville team we’ve got to play, and it’ll take a real good effort in order for us to be able to win. Hopefully we can get that kind of effort out of us again.”
Added Lawson: “Collinsville’s going to be tough. We got beat pretty bad by them the past two games we’ve played them. They’re going to be hard to beat, but maybe we can have a perfect game to win.”