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Panthers suffer heartbreaking loss at Elite Eight
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Jarvis Jones nearly handed Saturday's Class AAA
quarterfinal game away. Instead he was able to help
secure an improbable Carver win.
 After committing what could have been a game-changing
turnover with his team up by one point in the last
minute, Jones helped Carver barely hold on for a 66-63
comeback win over Liberty County by going 1-for-2 from
the foul line with 4 seconds left.
 That forced Liberty County's Jordan McRae to rush a
desperation 3-pointer at the horn, which was off the
mark, sending Carver to the state final four and the
Panthers home after blowing an 11-point second-half
 Trailing by one in the final 30 seconds, Liberty
County missed three free throws and a pair of 3-point
attempts. That helped Carver overcome Jones' turnover
with 32 seconds left, when he rebounded a missed foul
shot by Donrico Wigfall on the front end of a 1-and-1
and then handed the ball out of bounds to the referee,
thinking Wigfall was about to shoot a second foul
 "Everyone needs a little bit of luck every now and
then," Jones said.
 The Tigers (21-9) will face Dunwoody, a 76-51 winner
over Flowery Branch on Saturday, in Macon Friday at
8:30 p.m.
 Liberty County (23-5) was up by 11 points after a
3-point play by Rashine Mitchell with 4 seconds left
in the third quarter, only to have its lead cut to
eight, 51-43, when Carver's Marcel Hawkins drilled a
3-pointer at the buzzer.
 Hawkins helped the Tigers stay alive in the third
quarter, scoring 11 of the team's 19 points on the way
to a 24-point, 13-rebound performance.
 But none of his points were bigger than that
3-pointer, which was the start of a Carver rally that
seemed unlikely with the Tigers struggling to maintain
any momentum.
 "We didn't play well at all," Carver coach Warren
Beaulah said. "This is probably the worst we've played
since we've gone on our little run. We came out a
little tight tonight."
 The Tigers trailed for most of the first half and the
entire third quarter before finally turning up their
intensity in the fourth. And even when the Tigers
rallied to within two points midway through the
quarter, things began to look bleak.
 Wigfall and Emmanuel Fuller hit consecutive baskets
for Liberty County, pushing the Panthers' lead to
63-57 with 2:35 remaining before Carver mounted a
final charge and prevented Liberty from scoring
another point.
 Charles Martin sparked the comeback with a clutch
3-pointer and a breakaway layup off a Jones steal,
giving Carver a 64-63 lead - its first advantage since
late in the second quarter - with 42 seconds left.
 "I had confidence. I hadn't hit one all game, but I
found it," Martin said of his momentum-changing
3-pointer with 58 seconds to play.
 Despite Jones' turnover, Wigfall and Michael Manning
missed free throws and McRae and Rion Brown missed
3-pointers for Liberty County, while Jones and Jarmon
Fortson each hit single free throws to help Carver
hold on for the narrow win.
 The Tigers used a high-pressure defense to give
themselves a chance, making eight steals and forcing
numerous turnovers to close the game on a 14-4 run.
 "It's a beautiful thing," Beaulah said. "They didn't
handle the pressure very well and we were able to
seize the opportunity. When they didn't handle the
pressure, we made some shots."

Liberty County (63)
Jordan McRae 17, Michael Manning 16, Brown 7, Lee 5,
Wigfall 5, Friend 4, Fuller 4, Mitchell 3, Johnson 2

Carver (66)
Marcel Hawkins 24, Charles Martin 12, Jarmon Fortson
11, Ross 7, Jones 7, Johnson 5.
Records: Liberty County 23-5; Carver 21-9. Up next:
Liberty County Season over; Carver Friday vs. Dunwoody
in Class AAA Final Four, 8:30 p.m. in Macon, Ga.

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