Allison posts 41 points, leaves it all on the court in double OT loss

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

OPELIKA – After dropping 62 combined points in his first two games of his senior season to join the 1,000-point club at Pelham High School, Justin Allison came full circle and closed out his storied career with another dominant performance posting 41 points in a double overtime loss to Opelika.

While the 66-63 heartbreaking loss wasn’t the outcome he or the team wanted, it’s the way he wanted to go out.

Opelika held around a five-point lead throughout the first half as Allison was only able to grab seven points in the first 16 minutes, which allowed the Bulldogs to take a 26-21 lead at the half.

But in the second half, the game was on.

Allison came out and poured in 12 points in the third quarter, accounting for all of the Panthers’ points, to bring the deficit down to just three points heading into the final quarter of action.

As has become the case over the last several games, Pelham was used to having to battle in a tightly contested game and wasn’t in unfamiliar territory.

Allison was extremely comfortable and had built a load of confidence in the third quarter. That boasted level of confidence led to 10 more points in the third quarter, including a huge and-1 with 1:44 to play, which brought his second-half total to 22 points and drew the Panthers to within one point.

The game continued to go back and forth until the Bulldogs drained two free throws to build a two-point advantage with 30 seconds left in the game.

That didn’t cause Allison any panic as he immediately got the ball and drove right down the lane to draw a foul. He then calmly stepped up to the line to sink both free throws to tie the game with 19 seconds remaining.

Opelika’s last possession ended empty handed and the game went to overtime.

The first overtime went back and forth the entire way, but Pelham was actually able to take a one-point lead after Edward Gipson hit 1-2 free throws with just under a minute to go.

The Bulldogs quickly made a layup to tie the game up, but then proceeded to foul Gipson again with seven seconds remaining in the game.

With the pressure of the game on his mind, Gipson sank the first free throw to tie the game at 54-54, but then missed the ensuing free throw that could have possibly won it. With the game still tied, the two went to a second overtime with their seasons on the line.

In the second overtime, Pelham was able to take another one-point lead with 2:22 to play when Blake Floyd hit two free throws, but Opelika responded with its only 3-pointer in either of the two overtimes to grab the lead back at 57-55.

The Panthers were able to tie it again shortly after with 1:18 remaining in the game, but Opelika then went on a 6-0 run thanks to two steals. The Bulldogs were able to grab what seemed to be an insurmountable 63-57 lead with 34.1 seconds left, but Pelham wasn’t ready to quit.

Allison was able to hit an and-1 and then drained a 3-pointer to make the score 65-63 with 3.1 seconds remaining.

After Opelika hit just one of their two free throws with 3.1 to go, Pelham had one final chance, which was more than they could have asked for 30 seconds earlier, but the shot at the buzzer didn’t go as the Panthers’ quest for three consecutive Sweet 16s came up short.

As head coach Joel Floyd said after the game, you never want to see the season to come to an end, but if it’s going to end then that’s the way he wants it to go down. With hard work and a ton of fight from his team to create an incredible high school basketball game.

Allison ended the night with a game-high 41 points, 34 of which came in the second half and the two overtimes as he left everything he had on the court.

Chris Brown added eight points, while Gipson had five, Floyd had four, Mason Goolsby had three and Grayson Dill had five as all of them fought on both ends of the floor.