Dallas County had a No. 1 ranking, a size advantage and hadn’t lost to a Class 4A team all season.
Dora didn’t care. Least of all Caleb May.
The senior point guard went coast-to-coast for a basket at the buzzer to give Dora a remarkable 67-65 victory over the Hornets in their Central Regional Tournament game at Alabama State in Montgomery.
Dallas County had tied the game on a layup with 14 seconds remaining. May took the inbound pass and dribbled across the halfcourt line looking for an open man. When he couldn’t find one, May drove to the basket and hit a floater in the lane as the buzzer sounded.
Dora players rushed the court after the shot, mobbing May at the opposite end of the floor as Dallas County players dropped to their knees in disbelief.
“I always dreamed of making a game-winning shot,” May said. “I didn’t think it was going to go in, but I knocked it off the glass and it went in. I got my wish.”
May didn’t plan on taking the last shot, but as the time ran down, he had to make a play. “I saw my teammates and their eyes were real big. They were just standing there. I thought, ‘I have to take control’ and I just took over.”
Next up for Dora (20-7) is the Central Regional Tournament championship, set for 5:20 p.m. Friday.
“Unbelievable,” Dora coach Michael Bridges said of the win. “I told the guys all week that if we stick with what we do and play hard we will come out on top.”
Dallas County seemed in command of the game through three and a half quarters. The Hornets (25-6) led by as many as nine in the first half and took their biggest lead at 48-35 midway through the third quarter.
Dora stayed within striking distance thanks to the play of May, Deionte Smith and Kaleil James. The trio combined for 44 points.
Dora won the game despite the play of Dallas County’s William Lee. The 6-foot-9 center recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks.
The Hornets also held a rebounding edge (38-27) and shot 30 free throws compared to just 17 for the Bulldogs.
Dora evened things out by forcing 24 turnovers and making 15 steals.
Dallas County led 15-12 after the opening quarter 32-27 at the half and 51-44 going into the fourth quarter.
Dora began chipping away at the Hornet’s lead in the final quarter. The Bulldogs drew within five points after a Smith steal and basket made the score 55-50 with six minutes left.
May cut the gap to 59-55 with a 3-pointer and James’ reverse layup made the score 59-57 with 3:11 left.
May’s 3-pointer at the 2:07 mark gave Dora its first lead at 60-59.
Dora pushed its lead to 64-61 with 35 seconds left after a pair of free throws from DeAngelo Pendleton.
Dallas County trailed 65-63 after a Smith free throw with 24 seconds left.
The Hornets tied the game on Markell Harris’ basket with 14 seconds left to set up May’s heroics.
“Not too many people thought we could win, but as coach has told us, everybody outside the gym doesn’t matter. Everybody in the gym believes that we are going to win,” May said.
May had 17 points to pace the Bulldogs, Smith added 14 points and seven rebounds, James put in 13 points, Pendleton had eight points, Kenton Petties added six, Robert Johnson had five and Devonta Gosha had four.
For Dallas County, Chadrick Martin had 18 points, Lee had 16, Harris put in 12 and Jerrod Moorer added 11.