By MIKE PHILLIPS / Corsicana Daily Sun
Shannon Lilly, who had struggled all afternoon, hit a long 3 at the buzzer to lift Navarro to a 57-54 win over Paris on an emotional Saturday afternoon at Navarro, where coaches and 10 players from the 2004 Navarro team came back to pay tribute to Justin Trier and Pa Sarr — teammates who lost their lives in an van accident on Feb.9, 2004.
Trier’s family was on hand, and a representative from Gambia was there for the Sarr family. Players spoke of the great loss and the 10 years of recovery. Both Lewis Orr, who was the head coach of that team, and Johnny Estelle, who was the associate coach and later became Navarro’s head coach, also spoke.
“We are here for them,” said Courtney Castro, who made the trip from Brooklyn to be there Saturday. “They are two angels who gave up their lives for us. It could have been any of us. We’re not here because we wanted to be. We are here for them.”
Estelle said the men on that team have all grown and all have gone through everything and have succeeded in their lives.
“They are in our heart,‘’ he said of Trier and Sarr, “and always will be.’’ Then he turned to the crowd at Navarro and said, “We’re family, right? We’re family, right? We will always be family.’’
It was an emotional day, and a thrilling end to the game.
Lilly had made only one shot– a 3 — in the entire game before hitting the game winner.
“As soon as it left my hand I knew it was good,‘’ Lilly said. “Cris (Boleware) found me and got me the ball and I knew I had to make the shot. I was just so excited. I just started running from excitement.’’
Lilly finished with six points after making his final two 3-pointrs of the day. He hit a 3 to open the second half that gave Navarro a 29-21 lead, and the Bulldogs held a 6-to-10-point lead through most of the second half.
But they hit a cold streak with 6:03 left in the game and Paris went on an 11-1 run and took a 51-50 lead with 1:51 left. The Dragons built the lead to 54-52 with 1:07 left on a pair of Joe Haynes free throws, but Troy Jones hit a put-back with 40 seconds left to knot things at 54.
Navarro’s defense swarmed Paris, which failed to get a shot off in time and turned the ball over on a shot-clock violation, and the Bulldogs had time — barely — for one last shot. Lilly made it count and his 3 lifted the Bulldogs to a 10-4 record in the Region XIV race. Paris dropped to 10-3.
Jamar Goodwin led Navarro with 10 points and Boleware and Duan Wright scored nine points each. DaShawn Robinson scored eight and Jones and Lilly — the two Bulldogs who made the final two shots — finished with six each.. Nouhoum Boucoum led Paris with 14 points.