ELKIN — With 9.8 seconds left in overtime Friday night, Jamiles Hayes took the inbounds pass and dribbled into the paint.
He looked to dish to red-hot Kody King in the corner, but Surry Central cut off passing lane, forcing Hayes to improvise.
The junior took advantage, knocking down a fall-away, contested jumper at the buzzer to lift the Buckin’ Elks to a wild and improbable 49-47 victory over the Golden Eagles.
“I was nervous,” Hayes admitted. “But thank God — God was on my side on that shot. I had thoughts about it before I took it, but it was all or nothing.
“It was supposed to be penny-slash-loop,” he continued. “I was supposed to kick it to Kody and set a screen for him and have him come around. But it got all rambled up, so I had to go with it.”
The student section erupted and rushed the floor after the shot, hounding Hayes in celebration.
“I don’t even remember everyone rushing — I was just excited. I was jumping for joy,” he said. “I knew if I missed the shot, Sarge would get at it. Luckily, God blessed me and it went in.”
The buzzer-beater capped a frantic final 1:13 of the overtime session.
While leading 44-43 late, Central’s Zack Wilmoth raced down the floor on the fast-break and hit a contested layup while drawing a foul. The and-1 free throw gave the Golden Eagles a 47-43 advantage.
After Josh Strickland converted 1-of-2 to cut it to 47-44, the Elkin zone defense got a big stop to get the ball back.
With 13 ticks left, King got loose in the left corner and knocked down the biggest shot of his career night, draining a game-tying three-pointer.
On the ensuing possession, the Golden Eagles stepped out of bounds in front of the scorer’s table, giving the ball back to the Elks with a chance to win it.
Head coach Kenneth Abrams drew up the play to give King another look in the corner. But after Central’s defense collapsed, Hayes took the game into his own hands, hitting the most dramatic shot of the game to send Elkin to the victory.
“I knew that Surry Central was going to go to zone,” Abrams explained. “The play was for the point guard (Hayes) to penetrate the zone and kick it in the corner (to King). They collapsed, so he had to pull up and shoot it. He did was he told to do, but I was hoping they’d let him penetrate.
“They cut him off, but it was a heck of a shot. It is a shot he makes every day in practice.”
The victory ended a seven-game losing streak to open the season for the Elks. Abrams said the morale of the locker room changed after the thrilling win.
“It feels to get one — hopefully it’ll start something. If we can get the same effort that we had tonight, we’ll be good,” he said. “I’m just glad to get one for the kids because it changed the morale of the locker room.
“It was a team effort all around, everybody played hard. It was a good win and we needed it. I’m proud of them.”
While Hayes played hero with the game-winner, King poured in a career-high 30 points to go along with 11 rebounds and two steals. Hayes finished with six points on the night, while Josiah Blevins pitched in with five points.
Zack Wilmoth turned in 19 points to lead the Golden Eagles, while Jake Wilmoth added 12 points on four treys.
“It was a 10-point game at their place a week ago,” Abrams added. “We had the opportunity to win that one too, but we lost it at the free throw line. We played a lot of zone tonight and it was really effective.”
Elkin improved to 1-7 on the season with the win, while Surry Central fell to 4-3.
The Elks return to the floor Tuesday against South Stokes before taking on rival Starmount Friday.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or email@example.com.